- Jason Poole is a Nashville, Tenn.-based travel agent, who specializes in cruises and European travel.
- I don’t charge my client fees to work with me. I’m 100% free. I make my money from the resorts, the cruise lines, and the hotels paying me a commission to bring them clients.
- This is Jason Poole’s story , as told to writer Jamie Killin.
LoadingSomething is loading.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jason Poole, a Nashville, Tenn.-based travel agent who specializes in cruises and European travel. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I have a passion for travel. I joke that I vacation in Nashville, Tenn., where I live, but my true home is at the airport, on a cruise ship, or in a European city.
I’ve always found value in using a travel agent, especially when I was in a different career and too busy to book my own trips. My travel agent always told me she thought I would be great at it and after turning her down many times, I joined her team. We now co-own a Cruise Planners franchise together and I’ve been an agent for seven years.
I love helping people experience things for the first time.
Cruising is my personal passion. I’ve found the most successful travel agents discover a niche – so my areas of expertise are all-inclusive resorts, cruises and European land travel.
I love helping people experience things for the first time. I tell my clients, I can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want. Some of my clients are veterans who don’t need my help booking a flight or a hotel.
However, I also have a family of three who just returned from their first trip to Europe and they wanted assistance with everything. I loved crafting their itinerary, from flights to transfers to tours and excursions, to help them have the perfect vacation that fit their budget.
Jason Poole, seen here on a trip to Santorini, Greece, travels as part of his work as a travel agent to experience cities and cruise ships first-hand.
I don’t charge my client fees. I’m 100% free. I make my money from resorts, cruise lines, and hotels who pay me a commission to bring them clients. I’m also often able to get clients prices lower than those on resort or cruise websites, as well as complimentary amenities.
I get so many offers for familiarization trips, I have to turn them down all the time
Because I’m in the Cruise Planner’s Millionaire’s Club – which means I do over a million dollars in sales per year – resorts and cruise lines always want me to do familiarization trips. I get so many offers I have to turn them down all the time. I pay for personal trips out of pocket, and those make me more of an expert in cruise lines and resorts.
Most of my business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals. Getting bookings is easy, however, I don’t want bookings – I want clients who work with me because they want boutique service. You can call me, email me, text me, Facebook message me, even Instagram message me – my phone is glued to my hip. You can email sites like Expedia but you will get a response in weeks – versus hours with me.
That’s important right now since travel is in a state we have never seen. Some people call it revenge travel, but I hate that phrase because it sounds so negative. What we’re seeing is people traveling more, and people spending more; the person who used to fly economy is now flying Business or First Class.
Now people are searching for great travel agents – especially those with authority
When I started out, I often had to convince people of the benefits of using a travel agent. I’d tell people at cocktail parties that I was a travel agent, and always get the same response: ‘They’re still around?’ The internet completely revolutionized travel. People thought since they could book things on the internet, they didn’t need a travel agent.
But now people are searching for great travel agents – especially those with authority about resorts, cruise ships, and cities they want to see.
I think the pandemic taught us that life is short. It’s helped people see the value of travel agents and want to travel more. Even in my own travels, I find myself focusing more on new destinations and new experiences.
- When you fly, download the airline app to your smartphone. It’s the fastest way to get notified of any changes from the airline.
- Purchase travel insurance. People don’t realize that not only does it cover trip cancellation, it also covers emergency medical transportation for getting you back to the U.S., which can cost hundreds of thousands.
- Give yourself a bit more time at the airport, especially with layover times for international trips when you have to go through customs, grab your luggage, recheck it and go through TSA again.