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Linda "Casey" Rainey, MCC
Independent Travel Agent, Goldrush Getaways
Describe your career as a travel agent.
Fun, lots of fun, and more fun. I advise my first-time cruisers to start out with a shorter cruise (I recommend a Catalina/Ensenada itinerary from Long Beach) to see if they like cruising before investing in longer cruises. This is why I organize a 4-night group cruise, every year. It gives my clients the opportunity to “test the waters”.
How long have you been in the business? What attracted you to it?
I have been a travel agent for just over 11 years. I love people and love to have fun by hosting group cruises (the more the merrier).
What is your approach to serving clients?
I believe in always giving the client what they want, and more than what they expect. When they state “I get good pricing online by myself”, I educate them on how I take care of all the little details, like keying in their guest check-in information. I even get their boarding passes and luggage tags for them. I listen to what they want and imagine myself going with them and how could I make their vacation better. My three main steps to selling cruises: 1. Listen 2. Imagine 3. Sell.
What is your biggest challenge when selling cruises and how do you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is when someone says “I would never go on a cruise.” A friend or relative of theirs may have had a bad experience. Or, they hear on the news about something that happened on a particular cruise and think that specific cruise line is not one they want to be on. I explain that every cruise line, cruise ship, and itinerary is different. I highlight the best things about the cruise I’m recommending and assure them their experience will be better.
What has been a career highlight, thus far?
Taking a group of Shriners (Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California) and their families on a cruise through the Panama Canal. It was not my first time through the canal, but this group and the ship’s crew made it so much more fun. It happened to be the first time that ship and crew went through the canal. The crew was as excited, as we were, which made the experience even more fun. It was like seeing the canal for the very first time. With the help of the crew, I saw things I didn’t see the first time.
How has your CLIA membership and certification helped you as a cruise travel professional?
Just having my Master Cruise Counsellor (MCC) certification makes me feel more confident and knowledgeable. I believe it shows my clients I am serious about my work as a travel agent. The membership helps me to find and get ship inspections quicker. I have also enjoyed reduced rates from hotels as a reward for my hard work. CLIA membership also keeps me up to date on the latest cruising news. Additionally, I have completed all the coursework from Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. I plan to take more CLIA classes, as well, and maybe even get my Elite Cruise Counselor (ECC) certification.
What cruising trends are you seeing?
I see more and more people wanting a cruise because they are mostly “all-inclusive”. They only unpack once and all activities are within reach. More and more people are booking family cruises. My clients seem to be getting younger and younger. Many young adults are cruising and taking their whole family with them.
What is your fondest personal cruise memory?
It’s hard to choose just one. On one of my group cruises, I opted to host a one-hour cocktail party. I asked everyone to wear their best 50s outfit. The last couple that came into the party—he was wearing a white sports coat and a pink carnation, and she was wearing the exact outfit that his mother wore to his graduation in the 50s. I hired a DJ for the party and it truly was a great sock hop.
Another fond memory was when my sister purchased cabins for her and her husband, their three daughters, their spouses and children. Of course, I had to go, too. Then more family members decided to go also. It was such a great family experience. There was something for everyone to do. Our dinners were just like in the olden days when we would all eat dinner at the table together.
Any last thoughts?
When I started in the business, I took all the classes I could get with Goldrush Getaways, except the group cruise class. I didn’t think I would ever have enough cabins to constitute a group. I booked a cruise, made a flyer and sent it to everyone I knew. The response was overwhelming. I had more than 50 people who wanted to go on the cruise. At that point, I had to ask for help. Now I am a group cruise specialist.