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Meet Travel Agent Magazine's Top 25 Travel Agents of 2012

August 17, 2012 by Jena Tesse Fox, Adam Leposa, Travel Agent Magazine

Linda Androlia

Sunstone Tours & Cruises

Malibu, CA

As an expert in small-ship adventure cruises, Linda Androlia has become the top agent in the nation in terms of revenue for many small-ship operators. She also writes for the Niche Cruise Marketing Association, teaching other agents how to sell the small-ship product and is a member of Vacation.com.

When her top (and favorite) small-ship supplier went out of business in what she calls “an unethical manner,” Androlia faced some tough challenges. “Protecting my booked clients, dealing with unsuspecting clients who were still asking for the product was a learning experience,” she says. “I had to learn the ins and outs of insurance, credit card refunds as well as the government organizations which were set up to protect the cruise industry from such issues.” The plus side, she adds, is that her clients became fiercely loyal to her when she went to bat for them.

A memorable trip she once arranged was for a couple who had traveled with her before. The wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and for a final trip, they wanted to go to Alaska. “They had to check blood levels to adjust daily meds on the ship; it was coordinated by myself and the doctor.” The patient did so well that they wanted to extend and go to Russia. In need of a visa and more medications, “it took a village” to coordinate it all, but they were able to continue their cruise for another 10 days.

Jacinta McEvoy, VP sales, Lindblad Expeditions, says that Androlia is Lindblad’s No. 1 individual selling agent. “Her knowledge and customer service skills create a relationship with [her clients] that lasts. She supports all of this with strategic marketing tactics, and online and social media prowess.”