In the week of the Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards, I hardly needed reminding of the quality and professionalism of the travel trade.

But by chance, I was given a timely example not just of agents’ expertise, but of how they are evolving to stay relevant and boost business.

This fantastic showcase of the agent’s art came about when I happened to mention during an email conversation that a relative was toying with various options for a Norwegian fjords cruise.

Within minutes of mentioning my relative’s conundrum and their quite specific requirements, the agent sent me a reply – and it was not just a couple of lines of advice. Instead, they had attached reviews, photos and videos they’d made from ship visits, and had also helpfully weighed up in great detail the pros and cons of a handful of lines and itineraries based on my brief.

My relative read every piece of info and watched every clip, and ultimately this helped them come to a decision with complete confidence, having previously been baffled by the choice.

If ever suppliers question the value of getting agents to see their products first-hand, they should take heart from this. And agents should grab these opportunities with both hands and use them to create rich content to establish their expertise and stand out from the crowd.

As we prepare to honour the best agent and agencies in the UK and Ireland, I couldn’t have hoped for a better first-hand experience of our incredible readers.

Comment from Travel Weekly, July 11 edition