The one area of the economy that is doing very well, thank you, is the entertainment industry. Avatar is on its way to earning a trillion dollars. Entertainment Hollywood style is the one American export that is still wildly popular around the world. Plus, today’s online success of homemade viral videos has made obsolete the old conventional wisdom that it takes a big, costly production values to be successful. Just the fact that a low budget independent production such as Hurt Locker can win for best picture gives hope for all of us would-be Steven Spielbergs with a Handycam and dream.
So what does all of this have to do with our business? (How much time do you have?) We are in the dream business every bit as much as Hollywood – and fortunate to live in America. American leisure culture is still our most exportable commodity.
Stop and think for a moment. How would it impact your sales if you took a more entertaining approach to marketing and customer relations? (see previous TRO article – Fun Is Where the Money Is – Or, We Are All In the Entertainment Business Now.)
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With that in mind, now might be good time to freshen up everything – especially your online media – and doing so with thoughts of ‘entertainment value’ lurking in the back of your mind. How about the photos, slides and videos on your agency website? Do they have a little edge to them? A little personality? A unique style? Do you think they’d bring a smile to the face of a viewer – maybe a chuckle or two? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you attempt drama that would bring a tear to a glass eye – but most of what I see today on agency websites is bland to the point of being a suitable alternative for Ambien.
So how do you create a little edginess, a little personality?
Using ridiculous exaggeration coupled with a smidgen of fantasy always works for me. Example – below is a short dissertation on cruise ship entertainment – as always, suitable for posting to your agency website – containing both fact and (obvious) fantasy.
(Admittedly, it has been 30 years since my brief stint as an entertainer on the Love Boat – and, man, have things changed! Those days the ship’s Big Production Show was fleshed out by recruiting the Featured Act performers to serve as chorus members and supporting cast. Don’t mean to spoil your appetite, but can you imagine a hairy legged hick from Arkansas – normally earning his paycheck by playing banjo and telling redneck jokes – dressed in little more than a grass skirt with coconut shell bra – belting out “Bloody Mary is the girl I love” to the best of his hog calling ability? I didn’t think so. Sorry about your appetite.)
Things to Know About Cruise Ship Entertainment
- How to get the best seats in the showroom
- How to avoid the sleepers
- How to learn something (info-tainment)
- Arranging private shows
How to get the best seats in the showroom
Saving seats in the showroom is technically disallowed by the cruise lines – but people do it anyway. This is not a problem for experienced cruisers since we know that the saved seats are not likely to be the most desirable ones anyway. Intuitively, one would think that you would want to be right down front. Not so. The most desirable seats are in the balcony or near the back of the main floor. Why? First, you can sneak out without making a scene if the show is a real sleeper – something you’ll definitely want to do right after the third chorus of “My Way”. Secondly, the people down front are not only trapped for the duration – they are Comedian Fodder. No one looks forward to being the butt of the comic’s jokes – or to being the sucker who surrenders his wedding ring to the Magician – only to have it wrapped in a marked up dollar bill prior to being stuffed into a lemon. So, unless you are a ham to the point of masochism, best to avoid the first ten rows.
How to avoid the sleepers
We wish we had a rock solid works-every-time formula for you here – but we don’t. Determining what constitutes good entertainment is such a subjective interpretation – so relevant to one’s taste, mood and cultural background – you’ll just have to follow the above advice on “best seats” to sample the various shows. You can always head off to the Dirty Dancing Contest in the disco if the first fifteen minutes of a show fails to wind your watch.
How to learn something (info-tainment)
Higher Education, here we come! More and more lines are offering onboard classes in venues that rival the most prestigious ivy league institutions. Cruise passengers can gobble up all the Brain Food they can eat – on such subjects as Culinary Arts, Wine Tasting, Investment Strategies, Ecology, Video Production, Computer Literacy (evidently there are computers out there that can’t read or write) and so on. Some of these courses are free. Some have a cover charge.
Arranging private shows
Hey, guys, I’d love to tell you that show girls from the chorus line can be hired to come to your cabin for private performances. But, alas, it just isn’t so. First of all the cruise line wouldn’t allow it. Secondly, the audience would most likely be limited to single passengers only. Otherwise, you’d have to have a very, very understanding spouse. But here’s a thought. Given the continuous rollout of new, outrageous and previously un-conceived-of activities like the zip line, climbing walls, specialty shops and themed night clubs – how long do you think it will be before some enterprising cruise line entrepreneur will build a ship with a “Gentleman’s Club” on board? All it takes is a Scotch or two to bring the possibilities clearly into focus. The club would be complete with strobe lights, techno music and a stripper’s pole – and located right next to the ship’s chapel. Close proximity of these two seemingly conflicting venues would be a boon for two reasons:
- It would facilitate the instant rehabilitation of club customers suddenly overcome with guilt. Full and immediate absolution would be possible before the spouse arrives on the scene.
- All night participants in bachelor or bachelorette parties the night before a shipboard wedding would literally be able to crawl over to the next day’s ceremony on hands and knees, should that prove necessary.
Sadly, it could be years before we see such a classy shipboard innovation. The interim solution: an onboard – a Stripper Pole Rental service. Newlyweds would be offered a weekly rate…Senior Citizens a special discounted hourly rate with defibrillator option. These easily portable units could be delivered to the cabin, setup then later retrieved by highly discreet room stewards. Currently, the closest thing to “private shows” is what goes down at your dining room table every evening. These spectacles are courtesy of very talented wait staff – a waiter or bus-person with a bag full of close-up magic tricks, a comedian, etc. – as discussed in the previous “Cruise Ship Dining – Then & Now” article.
And, lastly – if you know someone who knows someone who has a brother-in-law who works for the cruise line – you may be able to arrange for private tours of the galley, engine room and/or navigation bridge.
If all else fails – see if you can get a staff member to invite you down to the crew bar. What’s that like, you ask? Well, do you remember the inter-galactic night club scene from the Star Wars movie?
That’s all for now. See YOU in the movies!
Author’s Bio – Lyn Edwin Cathey – Network Travel Services, LLC – A veteran of 25 years in the travel industry – holding positions within the industry such as trainer, educator, agent, consultant, agency owner/manager and product specialist. For 15 years prior to joining the travel industry Lyn worked as a full time entertainer/comedian, performing on banjo & guitar – often as a featured act on cruise ships. He created and currently maintains several websites, including – http://TripFinder.com ; http://PimpMyCruise.com and http://LaughTreks.com