Readers’ Lives: Helen Tustin

When Helen Tustin’s shop managers approached her with the idea of entering the Take the Clia Cruise Challenge, there was no question of not applying.

“Cruise is about 10% of our business and we want to increase that,” says Helen. Four branch Regal Travel, a member of the

Advantage Travel Partnership, has traditionally sold mainly bucket-and-spade holidays.

After putting together a plan about why the agency wanted to increase its cruise sales and how it hoped to achieve this, Regal was chosen as one of six agencies nationwide to take the challenge, run by Clia UK & Ireland in partnership with Advantage, technology provider Zolv and Travel Weekly.

This not only entitles agents to free membership this year of Clia, with access to training tools and exclusive events, but also gave each agency two free registrations to the Selling Cruise Conference and River Cruise Conference, advice on social media, cruise sales, marketing and PR, access to Zolv’s Full Picture technology and a place at the Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards in July.

“The branch managers are so pleased and so enthusiastic; they really feel we can now increase business for the cruise lines,” says Helen.

She hopes to increase cruise sales to at least 15% of Regal’s business, if not more. “Thirty per cent would be lovely!” she admits.

To get the ball rolling, Helen is keen to ensure all the staff at Regal’s branches go through Clia’s training programme on cruise products and attend ship visits.

“We want to recommend the correct cruises to our existing customer base. We will incentivise our staff to do Clia’s training,” says Helen.

Having access to the Clia site is already making a difference, she adds, as staff can now access all information about booking cruises in one place and easily find out which ships sail where in order to respond quicker to client queries or to suggest a cruise holiday.

Up to now, the agency’s consultants have searched individual cruise lines’ sites for information, which can be time-consuming and is potentially a minefield for agents not used to selling cruise, says Helen.

“One of the girls had an enquiry for cruises to Hawaii and she was able to find out quickly with a simple search on Clia’s site which line was doing it.

“The trouble is that clients can know much more than you; we need to be one step ahead – and this gives us the tools to do that.”

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