Rebekka Gale, cruise consultant at Cruise118 was the overall winner for cruise agent categories in Cruise Trade News’ Rising Stars. She talks to Jill Sayles about her career
Rebekka’s introduction to cruise came when she was taken on as a modern apprentice at Thomson in Scunthorpe in 2007. Whilst there, she mainly focused on learning about cruise and when the training ended, she nominated herself as a cruise expert at the store: “They appointed a cruise expert in each store, and although they already had one in mine, I just wanted to learn more.”
Following the completion of her apprenticeship, she moved to Humberside Airport Travel in 2009 as she wanted to see what it was like working for an independent rather than a multiple: “That’s where I started to get more cruise bookings and where I started to brush up on my cruise knowledge.”
After a year, she briefly “made the mistake” of working in recruitment for a few months before moving to First Choice in Brigg, also in North Lincolnshire. When the branch closed in 2012, and she was made redundant, it was the push she needed to apply for a job at Cruise118: “I thought about working at another high street travel agent, but by working from home you can save on costs and working in cruise was a big appeal to me.”
She started the three-week Cruise118 training programme in Chorley, Lancashire in 2012 where she learned about the Cruise118 system, cruise lines, how to conduct a call by listening to good and bad examples, and watching videos about the cruise business: “It was intensive but it did really set you up for a career with the company.”
Today, her role includes taking enquires by telephone and email, tailor-making customers’ cruise holidays, managing lead volume and time, and creating and loading bookings. She goes the extra mile for clients too, for example, any hotel she books for a customer, she contacts the hotel directly to tell them to expect VIP guests, which in turn has secured a few room upgrades: “The feedback I get from the clients when they check in is that the hotel has told them they’re a VIP guest, so it makes them feel special.” She also hand writes Christmas cards to all her customers. It’s this attention to detail that has made her an award winner over and over: “In 2015 I got my first award at Cruise118 which was the Millionaires Award and that was for selling over a million pounds’ worth of cruises.” She won the same award last year.
As for advice when selling to new-to-cruise clients she says: “I think with new-to-cruise it’s making them aware of the full picture prior to booking, such as discussing gratuities and how they work, and making them aware of little things such as the 15% drinks tax added by American cruise lines should they not buy a drinks package.”
Over the years she has gained a lot of job satisfaction and has been rewarded by getting positive customer feedback which she thrives off, whether it’s a review on Facebook, on a website or simply from calling a customer: “I call all customers after their holiday to see how it went as you need know and you might secure another booking from it.”
Going forward, Rebekka aims to keep exceeding targets she has set for herself and to continue growing year-on-year in regards to repeat customers, conversion, turnover, and net profit. Ambition remains, but she has no desire to be a team leader as that would take her away from sales, which she says is where her strengths lie.
And with her wedding planned for August 2018, there’s plenty to look forward to – especially her hen party with four friends onboard Britannia in May 2018.“We’re staying in suites!” she says