- Jason Poole is a Nashville, Tennessee-based travel agent specializing in cruises and European travel.
- I do not charge my clients any fees for working with me. I am 100% free. I make my money from resorts, cruise lines, and hotels that pay me a commission for bringing customers to them.
- This is the story of Jason Poole, told to writer Jamie Killin.
This essay is based on a conversation with Jason Poole, a Nashville, Tennessee-based travel agent specializing 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, Tennessee, where I live, but my real home is at the airport, on a cruise ship, or in a European city.
I’ve always found it helpful to use a travel agent, especially when I was in another career and too busy to book my own trips. My travel agency always told me they thought I would be great and after repeatedly turning them down, I joined their team. We are now co-owners of a Cruise Planners franchise and I have been an agent for seven years.
I love helping people experience things for the first time.
Cruising is my personal passion. I have found that the most successful travel agents discover a niche. So my areas of expertise are all-inclusive resorts, cruises and land travel in Europe.
I love helping people experience things for the first time. I tell my clients that I can be as practical or not as you want. Some of my clients are veterans who don’t need my help booking flights or hotels.
However, I also have a family of three who just returned from their first trip to Europe and wanted help with everything. I loved creating their itinerary, from flights and transfers to tours and excursions, to help them have the perfect vacation that fits their budget.
I do not charge any fees to my clients. I am 100% free. I make my money from resorts, cruise lines, and hotels that pay me a commission for bringing customers to them. I’m also often able to get customer prices that are lower than the resort or cruise line websites, and free amenities.
I get so many fam trip offers that I have to turn them down all the time
Because I’m part of Cruise Planner’s Millionaire’s Club — which means I make over $1 million in sales a year — resorts and cruise lines always want me to go on familiarization trips. I get so many offers that I have to turn them down all the time. I pay for my personal trips out of pocket, and that makes me an expert on cruise lines and resorts.
Most of my business comes from word of mouth and referrals. Getting reservations is easy, however, I don’t want reservations – I want customers working 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’ll get a response within weeks – compared to hours with me.
It’s important right now because travel is in a state we’ve never seen. Some people call it a revenge trip, but I hate that phrase because it sounds so negative. What we see are people traveling more and spending more; the person who was traveling in economy class is now flying in business class or first class.
Now people are looking for great travel agents especially those with authority
When I started, I often had to convince people of the benefits of using a travel agency. I would tell people at cocktail parties that I was a travel agent and always get the same response: “Are they still there?” The Internet has completely revolutionized travel. People thought that since they could book online, they didn’t need a travel agency.
But now people are looking for great travel agents, especially those with authority over the resorts, cruise ships, and cities they want to visit.
I think the pandemic has taught us that life is short. It helped people see the value of travel agents and want to travel more. Even in my own travels, I focus more on new destinations and new experiences.
- When you travel, download the airline’s app to your smartphone. This is the fastest way to be notified of any changes from the airline.
- Purchase travel insurance. People don’t realize that not only does this cover trip cancellation, but also emergency medical transportation to get you back to the United States, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Give yourself a little extra time at the airport, especially with layover times for international travel when you have to clear customs, collect your bags, recheck them, and go through the TSA again.