Homeworker Mathew Stevens has sold £1m of cruises in the past 10 months without ever having set foot on a cruise ship.
Almost all of his research has come from watching vloggers like Ben and David and The Cruise Monkeys on Youtube.
However, Mathew also credits support from MSC Regional Sales Manager Karen Spencer for his huge sales growth.
He sold 12 cabins on MSC in just three hours from a Facebook post during his busiest-ever day and during January and February he sold 130 cabins on MSC Virtuosa alone.
Mathew, Personal Travel Consultants’ most improved cruise agent this year, only launched his travel agency business during the pandemic, after returning to the UK from Tenerife where he was a Jet2 rep. Prior to going to work in the Canary Islands, he had owned four cafes.
“When I came back to the UK, I wanted to remain self-employed and stay in travel so I joined Hays as PTC-Plus member, which is for those who have worked in travel but not as an agent,” he said.
He started selling cruises after attending the Hays Homeworking Conference last year, at which Cruise Director Catriona Parsons urged agents to sell more cruises to increase their margins. Matthew took £200,000 of cruise bookings last year, but this year his sales really took off.
“I saw all the figures and numbers [at the conference] and thought these were amazing. I absorbed everything that Catriona said, I went home and that’s when my cruise journey started.”
Hays is making a big push towards selling more cruises as margins are typically much higher than for short-haul land-based packages. It expects the market to grow 36% this year, and wants cruise to account for 30% of its bookings by next year.
Initially, Mathew was booking P&O Cruises (‘because Hays Chair Dame Irene is Godmother to Iona’) but switched his focus to MSC when he realised his margins would be higher.
His first booking was for his mum, on one of the UK cruises on MSC Virtuosa during COVID. “She used to go with Marella but she loved Virtuosa,” he said.
Mathew did his research on Youtube, watching dozens of videos from vloggers such as Cruise with Ben and David and Cruise Monkeys.
“I got to know MSC on Youtube, I just knew her. And if there is anything I need, Karen [Spencer] is there. She’s been fantastic, an absolute saviour and supported me through everything,” he said. “She even pauses Coronation Street to speak to me!
“MSC Virtuosa is my baby, I know everything about her, but I’ve never seen her. I’ve never seen a single ship, but I can sell them now, because of the research I’ve done and the support I’ve had.”
Success has been hard-earned, however, as Mathew says he worked from 5am till 10pm every single day during January and February, only taking Valentine’s Day off.
“I did my admin at 5am, scheduled my posts for the day, then book, book, book. I’ve put money, time and effort into it,” he said.
“Now I’ve started watching videos about Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas,” he added. “I put an offer on Facebook and sold a cabin straight away, but I need to do a bit more training on that.”
His first cruise will be in December, when he will be a guest on MSC Euribia, along with 50 of his own customers!