I’m a travel agent specializing in cruises, and my career changed during the summer of chaos

  • Jason Poole is a travel agent based in Nashville, Tennessee, specializing in European cruises and travel.
  • I do not charge to work with me. I am 100% free. I make money from resorts, cruise lines and hotels that pay me a commission to bring clients to them.
  • This is Jason Poole’s story as told to writer Jamie Killeen.

This “as told” essay is based on a conversation with Jason Poole, a travel agent based in Nashville, Tennessee 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, Tennessee, where I live, but my real home is in an airport, on a cruise ship, or in a European city.

I have always found it valuable to use a travel agent, especially when I had another career and was 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 own the Cruise Planners franchise together 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 find their niche, so I specialize in all-inclusive resorts, cruises and overland travel in Europe.

I love helping people experience things for the first time. I tell my clients that I can be as hands-on as you want them to be. 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 need help with everything. I loved putting together their itineraries, from flights to transfers to tours and excursions, to help them have the perfect vacation within their budget.

Jason Poole, travel agent on a trip to Santorini, Greece

Jason Poole, who we spotted on a trip to Santorini, Greece, travels as part of his job as a travel agent to see cities and cruise ships firsthand.


I do not charge commissions to clients. I am 100% free. I earn money from resorts, cruise lines and hotels that pay me a commission to refer clients. I’m also often able to get clients lower prices than resort or cruise websites, along with free amenities.

I get so many offers for study tours that I keep turning them down

Because I belong to the Cruise Planner’s Millionaire’s Club, which means I do over a million dollars in sales a year, resorts and cruise lines always want me to do introductory trips. I get so many offers that I have to turn them down all the time. I pay for personal travel out of pocket and that makes me more of an expert on cruise lines and resorts.

Most of my business is based on referrals and referrals. Getting bookings is easy, but I don’t want bookings – I want clients who work with me because they want a boutique service. You can call me, text me, text me, Facebook me, even Instagram me – my phone is glued to my hip. You can email sites like Expedia, but you’ll get a response in weeks, not hours, when I get back to you.

This is important right now because travel is in a state we’ve never seen before. Some people call it a revenge trip, but I hate that phrase because it sounds so negative. We see people traveling more and spending more; someone who used to fly economy class now flies business class or first class.

Nowadays, people are looking for great travel agents, especially reputable ones

When I started, I often had to convince people of the benefits of travel agency services. At cocktail parties, I would tell people I was a travel agent and always get the same response: “Are they still here?” The Internet has completely revolutionized travel. People thought that since they could book things online, they didn’t need a travel agent.

But now people are looking for great travel agents, especially those who have authority in the resorts, cruise ships and cities they want to see.

I think the pandemic has taught us that life is short. It helped people understand the value of travel agents and want to travel more. Even in my own travels, I focus more on new destinations and new experiences.

Tips for traveling:

  • When you fly, download the airline app to your smartphone. This is the fastest way to be notified of any changes from the airline.
  • Buy travel insurance. What people don’t realize is that it’s not just trip cancellation coverage, but emergency medical transportation back to the US, which can cost hundreds of thousands.
  • Give yourself a little extra time at the airport, especially during layovers on international trips where you have to go through customs, collect your luggage, check it again, and go through TSA again.

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