We had the good fortune of connecting with Lucinda Belden and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lucinda, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
In the cruise industry, most future clients do not know how much they can save using a cruise agent. Before I started in the travel industry over 10 years ago, I thought it would cost extra to use an agent and be better to cut out the middleman. But in the travel industry, it pays the client to use an agent 100% of the time. They will either save you time or money or both. There are so many ways that would be critical for you, here are just a few: 1. We have direct connection with local cruise line business development managers who work with us to help provide incentives and amenities for clients to book with their cruise line. 2. We have certifications and training to show our experience and knowledge in the industry to help recommend the best cruise line for your travels without bias because we represent all the lines. 3. We are part of a consortium of agents through a host agency so this means we have extra discounts and amenities that can be added to your cruise on top of what the cruise lines are offering. 4. When there are any issues with your cruise, you are our client focus on that cruise, not thousands that the cruise line is dealing with at the same time, so you get personalized service. 5. Our livelihood depends upon having repeat clients so you will get our best and highest level of service So how does the travel agent make money without it costing you extra? The cruise line has an advertising and administrative budget. This goes to cover paying their own internal agents or outside travel agents. The cost is the same to them and is already budgeted in. You will not see an extra cost on your cruise booking with us versus calling the cruise line directly – but you will get an unbiased recommendation on a sailing that is best for you and highly likely at a lower rate or with extra amenities. And you are the focus of our service.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m taking a little liberty using the label artist / creative. Because when I put together a travel getaway for an individual or group, it is an art. Not a profession to me. I’m weaving in the options available when they want to go, their hearts desire of what they want to experience and my knowledge of what can successfully make this the vacation of a lifetime. I have to paint a picture for the traveler. To get to this place professionally, I have made important connections in the industry. I have traveled to over 400 cities, over 22% of the world and almost 200,000 miles. Last year I received the highest award in our industry from the Cruise Line International Association – Certified Cruise Agent of the Year for my contributions and work in the cruise industry. What drives me every day is the reminder of my first travel experience as an adult. I spent most of my youth in land locked areas and had not been to the ocean. I went swimming with the Stingrays and a whole new world opened up for me. I want my clients to feel that same awe and thrill on their vacations. Hence why I named my business – Stingray Travel.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Just like my travel work, this would be a custom itinerary because it would not be based on what I want but what I think my friend would want so they had the best time ever. I have had friends come into Dallas and we did all nature related like lake trips, outdoor concerts, and camping. Or they might be a history buff, so we are off to the School Book Depository and the Grassy Knoll. Or they like the eclectic and music so we spend our time in Deep Ellum. Some are foodies and some into motorcycles. The key is to learn about an area as much as possible so you have a whole reservoir of places to draw from that they will enjoy and create memories. The most fun, interesting, and exciting places or things to me are those that get someone else excited about an area I love.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Shoutout goes to my spouse, William Belden. He has his own career in computer programming and architecture but he is also the foundation to my business. With his expertise, he has helped me create an online website and has encouraged me to write and get books published. These have had a strong influence on the success of my business. I’m fortunate to have someone behind me that encourages me and helps me toot my own horn when I fail to do so. He is passionate about what he does and deserves a lot of credit.

Website: http://stingraytravel.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stingraytravel/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lbelden
Twitter: https://twitter.com/StingrayTravel
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StingrayTravel
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/StingrayTravel
Other: You can also follow my travel adventures as I work from the road full-time in an RV and ride motorcycles around the United States at https://dwo.net and http://www.fb.com/DirectionWideOpen.

Image Credits
by Lucinda Belden

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.