Agents at the Clia Selling Cruise Conference have been advised there is “no such thing as a freebie” when it comes to ship visits and fam trips.

Phil Nuttall (pictured), managing director of The Cruise Village and chair of Clia’s agent advisory board, urged agents make the most of the opportunities afoot in the cruise industry.

Speaking before delegates at the Selling Cruise Conference, Nuttall said agents should tweet, blog, take video and pictures during any fam trips. He said the trips should never be seen as just “a freebie”.

“There is a huge opportunity for cruise lines to relook at fam trips for agents who are prepared to use social media and blog during the cruise or when they get home,” he said.

“If you’re serious about business I don’t believe it’s acceptable to take a freebie and do nothing. I think as agents we need to experience a cruise as a passenger but we have a responsibility and duty to report and share these experiences with our customers.“

He said agents should take up all the ship visit opportunities put their way and use that knowledge to their advantage when making bookings.

“If you’re a member of Clia you can go and see 20 ships a year and it will cost you nothing,” he said. “And if you can’t get the time off, I advise you do it on your day off.

Nuttall encouraged delegates to “listen and learn” everything about Clia and cruise line partners to drive their businesses.

He said those not tracking new-to-cruise bookings were making a mistake, because if cruise lines were taking note of new customers, so should agents.

He said: “Some won’t actively tell you they’re virgin cruisers because they’re scared of asking what they perceive to be a silly question. It’s a big decision for them and they’re not sure. So make sure you know about every new-to-cruise passenger you book, make sure you have a process to engage with them.”