Agent Diary: How a Fred Olsen Cruise Lines fam trip changed my perceptions

My first-hand knowledge paid off and secured a booking with the very first customer I served on my return, says Hays Travel Gateshead’s Colin Burns

“Fred Olsen Cruise Lines? No, we don’t want to go with them, their ships are full of really old people, aren’t they?”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have had that reaction from a customer after suggesting Fred for their cruise – and you know what, I have found it hard to argue with them as that’s what I thought too. So when I was invited to join a fam trip on Fred Olsen’s Balmoral, I went straight to M&S and bought striped pyjamas, fluffy slippers, a flat cap and a pipe to fit in! But now, having returned from the trip, I feel this popular misconception isn’t necessarily true.

I was genuinely surprised and, if I’m honest, a little disappointed at how much younger some of the guests were. Yes, there was a proportion who were “of a certain age”, but I had thought that at 59 I would look and feel relatively young compared with all the others on board. However, this was not to be, because there were quite a few guests in a much younger age bracket than I had expected, and even a couple of families.

The right fit

Of course, the product won’t be right for every customer, and those who want all-singing all-dancing ships should consider other cruise lines, but Fred was exceptional at what it did.

It was great to sample life on board, and the activities that lovely account manager Pam White had organised for us certainly accommodated this. The trip had a great balance of educational activities, including learning about the product and checking out cabins, alongside being able to enjoy the experience at my own pace to get a real feel of who I could recommend Fred Olsen to.

This was a good example of why suppliers invest in fam trips

And it has paid off already, as the very first customer I served on my return to the branch was thinking about a fjords cruise and wondered if I could help. Using that first-hand knowledge to bring everything to life, I secured the booking. My next customers were two ladies who were already booked on a Fred Olsen cruise but were thinking of cancelling because they were worried about being bored and having to dress up all the time. Again, I could use my experience to reassure them, and they are now looking forward to their trip. Since then there have been more bookings secured because of the extra knowledge I now have.

Group harmony

It goes without saying that spending time with other agents is good fun too, and what a lovely bunch we had. It could have been like a travel industry version of Big Brother where 14 strangers are put together on one ship to see how they all get along, just waiting for that big argument. But everyone was on their best behaviour, there was no juicy gossip, and we all got along really well.

This was a good example of why suppliers invest in fam trips and I hope to continue with the growth in business for Fred, who I now also plan to sail with for my own holiday.

I am left with just a couple of questions that I hope someone can help me with: does anyone know M&S’s refund policy if you don’t have a receipt? If not, does anyone want to buy some unused striped PJs, a flat cap and a pipe?

Go to Source...