PEARLS Specialist Eva Henry with Around the World Travel shares her experience of being a PEARLS agent and her travels with her husband in Tahiti aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin.
Earlier this year you sailed on board The Gauguin. Have you been to Tahiti before that?
I first went to Tahiti on a Tahiti Tourisme Tiare Specialist familiarization trip and workshop. They loaded us down with brochures that we had to lug from one island to another! It was a great way to see a lot of islands in a short period of time.
You’ve been selling Tahiti for many years now. Can you describe what it was like when you saw the islands for yourself?
It was magical! To fly over the islands and see the different colors of the water is unbelievable.
How important do you think it is that you have firsthand experience of Tahiti now?
It is very important to have experienced the islands of Tahiti when you are assisting a client with making an important decision about a vacation here. Each island has so many different things to offer. I always suggest several nights pre-cruise.
How does Paul Gauguin Cruises and its PEARLS Specialist Program differ from other lines that you work with?
I like the advance notice of the sales. I also like the PEARLS Specialist booking incentives and bonus commissions, and that Paul Gauguin Cruises provides you with a press release.
Do you have a favorite marketing tool? Any other types of assistance that Paul Gauguin Cruises offers that you find helpful?
I really like the flyers that you can find in the Marketing Resources section of the Travel Agent Center on Paul Gauguin Cruises’ website. You can customize the flyers for your agency and send them out to your clients.
Would you recommend other agents sign up for our PEARLS program? If so, why?
The PEARLS program offers you incentives from the very beginning. If you haven't ever had the opportunity to visit Tahiti, you definitely need to take the PEARLS Specialist Program. You will have the opportunity to earn more money and go on a FAM trip to experience the ship.
Do you have any client stories you’d like to share?
I have a client from New Zealand, Joan Druett. I have sent her on The Gauguin twice. She is an author and maritime historian. I suggested that she contact Paul Gauguin Cruises to see about becoming a guest speaker. She is now going to be a guest speaker on the July 18, 2018, voyage aboard The Gauguin. I don't feel like I have lost a client; I offered her an opportunity. She blogs about her travel experiences, which are inspirations for her books. At the end of one of her blogs, she said, "This was all made possible by my Travel Agent Eva Henry.”
While on board, do you have any favorite activities or favorite indulgences?
I love to order room service—a freshly brewed pot of coffee and warm croissants are the best way to wake up. I also love the activities such as Tahitian language lessons and otea (Tahitian dance) lessons. I have made a pearl bracelet three times. I wear it until it falls apart...and then I need to go back to make another one. The espresso martinis are pretty awesome at La Palette on Deck 8. I love the shows. It is so special when they bring on the children from each island to perform traditional Polynesian dances. I have watched them grow up.
Where do you like to dine aboard The Gauguin?
After room service coffee and croissants, I run up to the La Palette and order a beet smoothie. It's healthy! I love to go to La Veranda for breakfast. Of course, we order several mimosas. The eggs benedict is wonderful. I split them with my husband! The Polynesian night on the last night in Moorea is so memorable. They bring on the local "Mamas," who teach guests how to make flower leis. The fragrance of flowers is everywhere.
When you first introduce yourself to a client, what do you tell them about Paul Gauguin Cruises?
I let them know that I am a PEARLS Specialist with Paul Gauguin Cruises and a Tiare specialist with the Tahiti Tourisme Board. I also let them know that I have sailed three times...I know every waiter, bartender, etc. I even have a drink named after me!
How important is it for travel agents to experience The Gauguin for themselves?
I sold it for a year just bluffing my way through it. After you experience The Gauguin, you have so much more passion for the staff, the service, the excursions, and, of course, the islands and the people of French Polynesia. You know which staterooms and suites are the best aboard the ship. There isn't really a bad one—some locations are just more desirable than others.
What suggestions do you have for travel agents who want to make the most of their time in the islands?
I have rented a car on several islands. The first time I sailed on The Gauguin, I visited all of the hotels that Paul Gauguin Cruises offers. I prearrange site inspections. When I book clients at the resorts, I email the hotel concierge ahead of time. They always do something extra special for my clients. I have seen other properties, as well.
Do you have a favorite island? Which one and why?
I think I would have to say Moorea is my favorite island. The Aquablue Underwater Walk is my favorite excursion, and I have done it twice. I also love the drive up to Belvedere Point, a pristine lookout on the island. It is so green and lush with huge mountain peaks. I love all of the snorkeling excursions. You have to spend the entire day at Motu Mahana on Taha'a. I am the first person off the ship and the last person to leave.
Do you have a favorite moment aboard The Gauguin?
The complimentary Polynesian Blessing ceremony for those celebrating anniversaries and honeymoons is a beautiful moment. My husband actually had tears in his eyes when we attended.
Our enrichment lectures and entertainment are a highlight for many guests. Do you have a favorite?
Anthropologist Mark Eddowes is amazing. He is so knowledgeable about French Polynesia. He sails on the longer cruises and leads several shore excursions. On the 7-night cruises, he comes on while on Moorea. Now I can't wait to meet my friend and client Joan Druett.
Any tips or packing suggestions for a cruise on The Gauguin?
Take twice as much money and half as many clothes. It is very warm and humid. You will need to dress in lightweight natural fabrics. No tie or jacket is required for men. Don't forget reef shoes, swim shirts, and lots of suntan lotion.
What three words describe the Paul Gauguin Cruises experience?
- FAB YOU LUS (fabulous)....it is
I cry when I leave. Especially when the farewell song is played and all of the staff hug and say goodbye.
Did you stay at any of our resorts? Which ones? Can you describe the resort properties and experience?
At the InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa, I have stayed in an Overwater Bungalow and a Premium Lagoon View room. I love the infinity pool. The Overwater Motu Bungalows are awesome. I have been to both the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa and the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort for site inspections. I have also stayed at the InterContinental Le Moana Resort—I love this property. It is just the right size and close to Bora Bora’s main town of Vaitape. The InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa is a lovely property, as well.
What is the best part about your job?
I experience the joy of helping people celebrate special occasions by assisting them with making a decision to sail on a fabulous cruise to a "bucket list" destination. They can feel my passion when I show them pictures of my experiences. I let them know this trip will give them memories for a lifetime.
Favorite travel quote?
No whining...unless it's Chardonnay! (I just made that up!) No one likes to hear anyone complaining...you are in paradise. Feel blessed every minute of every day. Life is too short. Travel more.
To learn more about guest host Joan Druett, click here.
To learn more about Paul Gauguin Cruises shore excursions, click here.
To learn more about the resorts, click here.