Travel advisor Susanna Steinbeck has always known what career path she would take—she wanted to book people on their dream vacations, and if it’s a cruise vacation they are dreaming of, so much the better. She’s so passionate about this mode of vacationing, and traveling itself, that at just 19 years old she has founded a travel agency—Cruisie Travel— and is making people’s vacation dreams come true.
We took the opportunity to chat with Steinbeck for a profile in the Recommend July/August 2023 issue and here we have posted the Q&A in its entirety.
Recommend: How did you know exactly what you wanted to do at such a young age?
Steinbeck: I have been traveling back and forth between parents in the USA and Germany regularly by myself since the age of six, and ever since I was very young, my dad has been taking me on cruises every year. I then grew up adopting the mindset (thanks to my parents) that anything I desire in life is possible, which led me to develop curiosity whether I could make a living off talking about and selling what I know and love. I researched this question, talked to some people and just went for it!
Recommend: How did you come to open your own agency?
Steinbeck: The USA is probably the easiest place in the world to open a business and to me, the independence of entrepreneurship is a very exciting factor about my profession. However, I obviously did not do this alone. I joined a course that is curated for aspiring travel advisors like me and teaches how to run and operate one’s own agency within weeks. The modules and support are phenomenal and they helped me get connected with a host agency, which is basically the tie between you and the vendors.
Recommend: When did you open your agency?
Steinbeck: I joined the course in August 2022 and had my agency running about two months later.
Recommend: Has your age been a gift or a hindrance?
Steinbeck: It has definitely been a blessing in most ways. It seems like most travel advisors are far above my age and (understandably) do not seem to have perspective on what younger generations may like and value. There just doesn’t seem to be a big market when it comes to helping young adults curate their ideal cruise experience.
Recommend: You specialize in cruise bookings—why?
Steinbeck: Cruises is what I know best. I feel confident talking about (almost) every major cruise line and can determine what type of person may enjoy which supplier, also regardless of age. Yet, being a young adult myself, I can then talk from personal experience, which is something I highly value in terms of providing good quality service to my customers.
Recommend: Is there a certain age group that gravitates to you because of your age?
Steinbeck: Surprisingly, it has been a good mix of age groups. I predict that people enjoy that I am not what most people think of as the “typical travel advisor” and I have also experienced various types of cruises, which has broadened my perspective and allows me to work with anyone.
Recommend: What do you tell your Gen Z cohorts when they say, “travel advisor,” implying that’s a job of the past?
Steinbeck: Booking a cruise, especially never having cruised before, can be an overwhelming process. The limitless offers, deals, itineraries and so on can be a big burden and many people do not realize that most cruise lines factor in travel advisor service costs in their cruise fare, which most people are not aware of and do not use. Who wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to get help from and talk to someone who is experienced in a vacation you want to take? Ultimately, you want to get the most of your vacation time and not have to deal with any stress around planning. I think talking to an expert to match your individual needs cannot be replaced by doing your own research.
Recommend: Do you think your age group is gravitating more toward travel advisors than the previous generation?
Steinbeck: I believe that through social media, people turn to more people who they know, like and trust. In that sense, seeing a travel advisor online experience something you really would like to do, is something that didn’t exist before and is definitely keeping the need for travel advisors alive.
Recommend: What does your life look like five years from now?
Steinbeck: In five years from now I want to make enough money with my business to be able to travel and cruise full time and work from anywhere. I want to continue testing new ships and destinations to further develop my experience and knowledge about the cruising industry
Recommend: What makes you so passionate about this industry and about being a travel agent?
Steinbeck: What I love about cruising is that to me, it is the easiest, most social and comfortable way to see the world. Unpacking once and waking up in a different place every day is something no other type of vacation can offer you. I am passionate about helping people discover their love for cruising and am determined and certain about the fact that there is a cruise out there for anyone, they just have to be matched with it and discover the magic of cruising for themselves.
Recommend: What makes you unique among your peers?
Steinbeck: Besides my age, I do not know many other travel advisors who have been on so many different cruise lines and itineraries around the world. I enjoy standing out as someone where people say: “Really? You’re a travel agent?” I feel like I have made the right choice and I enjoy being amongst the young cruise travel agent pioneers.