It's Not Just Who You Know...
... But with whom you can get in touch.
I have a policy in dealing with cruise lines. I never listen to first "no", I rarely take the second "no" and only when I hear the third "no" (from a third person) do I begin to believe I might not be able to do what I want.
But I realized tonight there's a huge difference between what I as a high-producing agent and the public at large deals with in the people we work with at the cruise lines. You'd think the cruise line agents who deal with the public directly would be the most skilled, since they're essentially acting as a travel agent. That's just not the case.
I read day after day on cruise boards of blatant misinformation given in good faith by cruise line agents to the booking public. Once in awhile I get similar misinformation from the better-trained and more experienced agents I have access to. The difference is that I know when I'm being told something wrong and have the option of getting to someone else to take care of my issues fairly easily. And a much greater chance of being able to reach someone like that.
Tonight, was working on a couple groups which had quite a few complicated changes to be made. It was clear the first couple agents I got really didn't want to deal with it, or didn't know how. I can almost tell by the way they answer their line if they're agents I want to work with. Attitude is huge in this business. So I did the bare minimum with those agents, waited a bit until I knew the majority of the agents on duty were from a particular call center and called back, finally getting an agent I knew who was glad to "tweak" the system to get done what I knew could be, but the other agents flatly had told me was impossible. Yes, it wasn't quite the way they're trained to do it, but it could be done and she was happy to take care of it.
If all else failed tonight, I also had my partner advocate and reps to handle untangling the issue, but I hoped not to use them with this (I save them for the really nasty challenges).
One should be able to get the right answers and have issues taken care of with the cruise lines, but the sad truth is the general public just doesn't have the same access to the people who can make things happen. Even agents sometimes have a challenge, but that's our job to deal with all that. Today, I know I earned my commission.
Part of it was since I deal with these offices all day every day, I know which call centers have a higher percentage of positive, well-trained agents, and which others sometimes are in the process of re-training to get rid of some bad habits or old procedures. I also know what to do to make their job as easy as it can be, relatively speaking. And finally, because I do often speak with the same agents, they know me and I've built relationships with them, so they're more willing to do a bit extra.
It may sometimes seem like having an agent is a layer between you and the cruise line, but believe me, it's a layer that benefits you when you need answers.