Aside from the fountain sodas, do you know what the most profitable menu item is at your local McDonalds? French fries! If you go to your local McDonalds and order a Big Mac and a soda (pop for those of you in the Midwest), what are the next six words out of the cashier’s mouth? “Do you want fries with that?”
What’s the big deal? Fries are less than a dollar and most people will at least order a small size to accompany their meal. Gotcha! McDonalds just figured a way to convince you to pay more money for one of their most profitable items. Without a doubt, McDonalds is one of the greatest success stories ever written; so why aren’t you operating like McDonalds?
The cashier has been trained in the McDonalds sales process. Call it an up sell or an add-on. But it has become so instinctive to ask if you want fries that the phrase rolls off their tongues. The other one is “can I supersize that for you?” But for the most part, travel professionals are too focused on Big Mac and the soda to offer the fries or the larger size.
We all know how lucrative groups can be. We also know that many cruise lines will allow you to hold group space for a song and a dance. The next time you have a client buying a cruise—ask them if they want fries with that!
Ok, so not fries, but think about this. You have used your experience, expertise, connections, and relationships to craft what is sure to be a wonderful travel experience for your client. Of course you should be trying to sell commissionable shore excursions (ShoreTrips anyone?). Of course you should be explaining the difference between sailing in a walk-in closet and a cabin with a balcony. And you are probably doing this each time you sell a cruise.
But when was the last time you asked a client if they thought their neighbors might like to experience an adventure like you just crafted? It is not a stretch to think that neighbors are in a similar socio-economic situation. And because most people are self centered, this thought has likely not crossed their mind. Plant the seed. Offer the fries. More often than not, they will agree that Bob and Carol might love this trip and agree to be your biggest advocate.
If you are Bob and Carol, are you going to be moved to take a cruise if you get a boring agency newsletter, see a slick commercial with perfect people on the television, or get some junk mail advertising discounted cruises? Probably not. But if Ted and Alice pop over to tell you about the greatest trip that you just planned for them and wanted to know if they might be interested in taking the same trip—you have a solid lead.
Now, what constitutes a group? If you have chosen the right cruise line, your group can diminish to one cabin and you still get most of the amenities. So, if Ted and Alice seem to think it is a good idea, why not book it as a group? The added benefit—you can call them back and let them know that you were able to finagle a lower price (usually) and an onboard credit. Who is the rock star now?
And if Bob and Carol come in and book the cruise, what do you say?
Do you want fries with that?
And before you know it you may have six, ten or more cabins sold. There are a lot of lessons this industry can learn from other industries. ASTA could learn a lot from the National Association of Realtors and apparently, we can learn a lot from McDonalds!