Cruises Inc. Agent of the Year Shares the Secrets to Her Success
Prior to opening her Cruises Inc. travel agency, Naomi Kuhns was an avid traveler who loved the research that went into planning vacations. Her friends and family always called upon her to assist in planning their vacations, so in 2006 she decided to make a career of it. In the beginning, she focused mainly on contemporary cruise lines and as she became more knowledgeable about luxury cruising, her sales increased in that market. Nearly 15 years later, Naomi has become an extremely successful work-at-home travel agent, and in the last five years her business has increased more than 40 percent. The pinnacle of her success was being named the 2019 Cruises Inc. Agent of the Year. Here is a Q&A with Naomi about how to be successful selling cruises from home.
Name: Naomi Kuhns
Location: Weddington, N.C.
How long have you been with Cruises Inc? I began with Cruises Inc. April 9, 2006.
WHAT TYPE OF PERSON SHOULD BECOME A TRAVEL AGENT?
Someone who is very passionate about making vacation dreams become a reality. Someone who is resourceful, dependable, driven, authentic and places a high priority on building relationships.
What is one thing you wish somebody told you before you opened your travel agency?
The one thing I wish I knew when starting out is how important it is to be patient. Not everyone is ready to book the day you give them information. Some people are researching their options while others are eager to book immediately. What might not happen that day or week, can happen later on. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for the booking. If you don’t ask, they might find someone else that will.
What advice do you have for a travel agent looking to grow their business?
Traveling is fun and it is easy to get excited about — share your enthusiasm for your business by telling others what you do, sharing your vacation stories, and even wearing branded clothing.
The learning never stops as a travel agent, and it takes many forms. You should travel, then travel some more, because the more you travel the more knowledge you will gain. Take online courses offered through the cruise lines and attend conferences hosted by industry organizations, as well as your host agency. Conferences are also a great place to network with other travel agents and share best practices.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. Explain that you offer personal service, that you will be there for support and to answer questions to help prepare them for a wonderful worry-free vacation. Whether it’s an annual family vacation, a weekend getaway, or a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list vacation, be resourceful and patient when planning vacations for your clients. Treat every vacation as if it were your own.
Most of all smile. Even though you are on the telephone, when you smile your clients will hear your happiness in your voice. People enjoy working with someone who enjoys what they do.
What are you doing to grow your business?
My business is built mainly on repeat clients and referrals. Communication is crucial. I work with my clients before, during and after their vacations. I keep in touch with clients who haven’t booked in a while to tell them about exciting new promotions from Cruises Inc. and the cruise lines that will save them money. I capture new business everywhere I go by sharing my love of travel with everyone I meet and offer my services to help plan their vacations. In fact, as I was being wheeled out of surgery, I was telling the nurses and doctors about my travel business and had my husband give them cards when I got back to the room. My motto is never miss an opportunity!
What is on your bucket list?
Iceland, Tahiti, and Australia.