Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge shares her top tips for agents – Travel Weekly


Last week’s Cruise360 conference had some fantastic takeaways, but our favourite by far was from Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge.

Following the heavily attended State of the Nation panel, Bettridge took to the stage with a strong message: travel agents are more important now than ever.

She began by highlighting research from the US which indicated that 60 per cent of a group surveyed who had never booked with a travel agent before the pandemic now say they will use one, with the number growing to 80 per cent when it comes to booking international travel.

“They learned that when something happens that they need to have somebody on the other end of the phone who they can go to and who’s going to be there to help them, and that’s what you do,” she said.

“The use of travel agents is having a resurgence.

“But you’ve got to be visible, you’ve got to actually take some risks and get out there. And being who you are, you have amazing knowledge; you’ve got to get out there and share it.”

Why is Bettridge so gung-ho when it comes to travel agents? She used to be one.

“And so it’s very near and dear to my heart. So I feel very comfortable giving you my tips,” she said.

Here are her top four tips for travel agent success:

1. Ask your customers what they want out of their vacation.

“You need to make sure that you are asking your customer the most important question: What do you want out of your vacation?” she said.

“Make sure you’re putting them on the right experience. If you do, they’re gonna come back to you.

“If you don’t, they’re not they’re coming to you for advice, not just to be a transaction.”

2. Find out who else they have sailed with

“Ask your customers: Who did you sail with last? Did you like the experience? Was that all-inclusive? Is that important to you?” Bettridge continued.

“These are the questions you have to make sure you’re asking to make sure you are getting them to the right experience.”

3. Selling cruises should be a critical part of your business model 

“Selling cruises needs to be part of your model. Look, we’re all in this to make money, right?” she said.

“You’ve lost the commission’s that you were getting from airlines where as with cruise, you’re selling one package. One thing, it’s easy, done, you just check in with your guests, you give them their documents, they go on vacation, you’re not following up with every little hotel and everything along the way to make sure it’s done.

“You just have to get them off the plane and get into the cruise. And you’re gonna make some incredible commissions.”


Bettridge’s last piece of advice, though, was her best;

“Remember, you provide an amazing service, and you need to ask for a referral,” she concluded.

“People are gonna be looking for a travel advisor because their advisor has retired or decided to get out of business. If you’re here, you need to ask for that referral.

“Ask while you’re in the middle of the transaction while you’ve got them excited about what they’re doing. That’s when you ask for the referral.

“And then thank them for the referral. You know, you can give them a sentimental handwritten note or send them some flowers because you know it’s those little things like that will make all the difference in the world.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here