Back in April, I attended the Cruise World 2010 conference in Fort Lauderdale. It was great to be around so many “up beat” cruise line executives and travel agents who were all reporting strong first quarters, with some predicting that cruise prices will start to strengthen again. This was good news to the agents who are focused on filling all the new ships that continue to come online. The math is pretty simple…
NEW SHIPS + HIGHER PRICES = MORE COMMISSIONS
Here’s a fact for you. The cruise lines will be adding 24 new ships over the next two years! There has never been a better time for agents to increase their efforts to find new cruisers, in order to fill these new ships. Lead in prices will remain very attractive and most studies are showing that people are beginning to travel again. The question remains, will they buy a trip online with one of the mega online agencies, or will they find you…a professional who can match each client with the right cruise product?
It is becoming more and more apparent to me, that with all the new ships and all the new shipboard innovations, dining venues and innovative entertainment, new cruiser will want to find a “true cruise expert” in order to make an informed purchase. If someone calls you and asks about the “new ship with the Ice Bar and The Blue Man Group,” you will have to know it is the new Norwegian Epic. So if you haven’t already started to learn all about the new ships coming out in 2010, get started now, as it will pay huge dividends down the road.
Fish Where the Fish Are!
I remember well, the excitement of selling lots of cruises, back when the major cruise lines started building new ships. I had heeded the advice of Bob Dickinson, retired Carnival President, who had told me, “Larry, you need to fish where the fish are if you want to build your business.” What Bob meant was that rather than fight the cruise discounters that were fighting over the small percentage of past cruisers, instead go after the much larger pond of folks that have never cruised. He went on to explain, that cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean were pouring millions of dollars into advertising to attract new cruisers; so why not go after those people that had already been exposed to this advertising.
This simple thought still holds true today. If you are not focused on selling one of the “mass market lines” like Carnival, Royal Caribbean or NCL, you might be literally “missing the boat.” These mega brands are perfect for a first time cruiser. Here is another interesting tidbit from CLIA–once someone goes on their first cruise, there is a nearly 80% chance that they will cruise again with two years. It is much easier to sell a past cruiser onto your favorite cruise line, after they have cruised, than trying to explain the differences to a first timer. But, don’t be surprised if a large number of past guests will want to repeat on the same cruise line. Don’t fight it, just take the money and keep on fishing. The “bait” will just keep getting better and better, as all these new ships come out over the next two years.
Larry Norman, CTC, MCC is an icon in the industry. He has been a consultant to over 5,000 Home Based Travel Agents and trained an estimated 22,000 travel agents over his career. He was Travel Trade’s 1996 Travel Educator of the Year. Larry owned a four state network of 17 agencies, with annual sales of $28 million. Larry is known as “The Outside Sales Agent Expert” for his presentations on outside sales at Travel Trade Cruise-A-Thons, ASTA, ARTA and NACOA travel agent conferences among others. You can share your views with Larry at LNormanCTC@aol.com