ARC MarketPlace Agent Spotlight: Meet Diane Mason of The Cruise and Travel Planner
Diane Mason has always been passionate about travel. After four years in the U.S. Navy, she pursued a career as a professional travel agent, completing travel school in Honolulu. Mason spent time in corporate travel, leisure travel, and a CTD before going into business for herself.
Nearly twenty years ago, Mason founded The Cruise and Travel Planners agency. I caught up with her recently to learn more about her story.
Location: O’Fallon, MO
Role: Owner and ECCS
Agency Type: Full-service Travel Agency
Recent Travel Destination: Iceland
Bucket List Travel Destination(s): Galapagos Islands, African Safari, Australia and New Zealand
Years Using ARC MarketPlace: 10 years
you specialize in any areas of the world or types of travel?
Our agency specializes in vacations for free, independent travelers throughout Europe, along with cruises and all-inclusive trips.
What is your greatest challenge as a travel advisor?
A big challenge is people understanding the benefits of using a travel agency. They often want to know what else we can do for them in terms of perks or discounts. Repeat customers fully appreciate that working with a travel agent is not about the price comparison, but about having travel arrangements made by a specialist who knows the destination and best products to meet their needs—and is there for them throughout the trip.
Is there a trend you’ve seen in the market that you think will impact future travel?
With the internet and so many consumer booking sites, people think they can plan travel on their own. They soon find out through hours of research and information overload that it’s more beneficial to work with a travel agent. There is a peace of mind and sense of security in relying on agents, especially with all the situations that can arise while traveling.
How do you use ARC MarketPlace?
ARC MarketPlace is our go-to resource to book tours and transfers. The website is great to find sightseeing tours and off-the-beaten-path activities. I also use it to book shore excursions for clients going on cruises, which is nice because of the return-to-ship guarantee.
Are there any go-to products that are popular for your clients?
Skip-the-line or small group tours are a must anywhere in Italy. For the Vatican, there is a small group upgrade tour that is a few dollars more, but it’s worth every penny for the intimate experience. For the Coliseum, there is a small group tour that includes the upper tier and underground chamber, which they only allow a handful of people to do every day, so it makes the experience very special. Whale watching for trips to Iceland and shore excursions for any cruises are also popular.
Do you have a story about a positive travel experience for one of your clients?
Recently, I had clients that were traveling to Sicily for business. They wanted the opportunity to see more of the island but did not want to drive around. Sure enough, on ARC MarketPlace, I found a four-night tour that included a private driver and took them every day in a different direction. It was so perfect, and the clients had a great time!
What is your favorite thing about ARC MarketPlace?
With ARC MarketPlace, I know that I am getting the best price and the best tour. Clients can’t find the same tour any cheaper on their own, and I only hear positive reviews afterward. Also, the breadth of products available is wonderful, and there are detailed descriptions of each, which is hard to find with other operators.
Do you have any advice for new travel agents?
It’s best to sell travel with a certain niche or specialty. Otherwise, you will find it overwhelming and challenging to grow your business. Go to school and find an experienced agency that will allow you to train under them. That is the best way to build your reputation and establish relationships, which is key to developing referral business. Being a travel agent is not all glamorous, but if you work hard and build your business around what you are passionate about, it can be a rewarding career.