Senior sales consultant,, Wimbledon

Dennis Straetmans has only been selling cruise for two and a half years since switching from ski and winter sports breaks, but he is already a top-seller for Royal Caribbean.

Here, he explains what he has learnt about cruise in a short space of time

Q. Why did you switch from selling winter sports holidays to cruise?
A. When I started at Iglu I was a ski sales consultant and then I got the opportunity to move to cruise. Even though skiing is my passion, I was keen to sell cruise as it’s a broader market and it’s not so seasonally dependent. Financially, it was also a better choice. It’s a big, growing market. Before I started selling cruise all I knew was what I had written in a university essay on my tourism course!

Q. To whom do you enjoy selling cruises most?
A. New-to-cruise customers. They are interested in knowing more and you can get them excited about it, whereas people who have been before tend to know already. With new-to-cruise clients, there is so much information to give them. I tend to spend 20 to 30 minutes on the phone with these customers and most of the time you do convert them.

Q. You are working for one of the largest online cruise retailers in the UK. Does this have its advantages?
We are fortunate in that we have a big team, with massive marketing and product teams. We get a lot of training, cruise lines come in to talk to us and there are lots of fam trips to go on. It really helps going on fam trips: you get a much better impression of a ship, especially if you go on an overnight cruise. I went on an Azamara cruise from Dover to Hamburg and I have sold it really well as a result of that trip. You see how it actually works from the guest’s point of view.

Q. You are selling holidays on the phone rather than face-to-face in a high street agency. What’s the most important factor to clinch a cruise sale?
A. The rapport you develop with the customer on the phone is important but it depends on which cruise line and price they are looking at. People looking at a £699 cruise may be calling around to see if they can get £2 off and that is more important to them than having a chat. But if customers are looking to spend a lot and you have the knowledge of the destinations and cruise ship, the rapport is important.

Q. How has the cruise market changed since you have been selling cruises?
Agents are selling a lot more tailor made cruises, which wasn’t the case two or three years ago. We used to just sell cruise packages and customers would have one night in a hotel pre-cruise, whereas now we are trying to give people the opportunity to see the city they depart from and stay longer.

Q. What sort of hours are you working in the busy January sales period?
A. We have the option to work longer hours so I am starting at 8am and working till between 8pm and 10.30pm. It’s a case of “heads down” at the moment. The more I sell, the more I earn, and I have a baby on the way, due in March, so I have a goal ahead of me!

Dennis’s sales tips

Tip 1: Learn: Make sure you know your ships and cruise brands

Tip  2: Copy: Find out who the biggest cruise seller is in your office and see what you can learn from them

Tip  3: Act: Be proactive and structure your day to ensure you return calls to clients and chase up as much potential business as you can

Dennis’s CV

2012 to date: senior sales consultant,, Wimbledon
2009-12: receptionist, Dalmahoy Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Edinburgh