Richard Earls wrote in a recent article “Mistakes are not the most desirable of instructors, but they teach lessons better than successes.” This made me smile, as I recently made a series of mistakes when I decided to escort my own group cruise.
The first mistake I made was assuming, because my husband and I combined, know a good deal of people, I would have no problem at all selling 16 cabins. In fact, after I announced it to my circle of influence, I received very positive feedback. I even created a nifty “all about the ship” PowerPoint presentation to address some of the frequently asked questions. I was confident, with the right marketing; I would have at least half of the cabins booked by my option date. But to my dismay, my first endeavor to escort a group was a bust to say the least.
My second mistake was not realizing beforehand that my circle of influence was too diverse for an affinity cruise. In fact, my group was so diverse that I was unable to find that one thing that could bring them altogether for this group vacation. Assuming my husband and I were that link was a poor assumption, a mistake that I will not make again.
Don’t get me wrong; other factors came into play that made it difficult for me to effectively sell my cabins as quickly as I wanted. There were the pre-conceived ideas about cruising from the first-time cruisers. There was also the challenge of the single traveler who was unable to find a roommate. Because I chose one of the more expensive ships and itineraries, cost was a factor for some as well.
My third mistake was booking the group 15 months in advance. I thought by planning so far in advance my group members would have ample time to pay off their trip. What I discovered was that after the initial interest, my prospects started to fall off, as it was too far in advance and many were not willing or able to commit to their summer vacation yet. By the time my prospects’ interests were renewed, I had already approached my “option date” and had to release all of my unsold space.
Will I try it again? Absolutely! The risk I took did not yield the success that I would have liked it to, but the lesson was definitely invaluable. I got a crash course on how to effectively plan, market and sell a group. For a group specialist, that lesson is priceless.
Tracy Kidd is the owner and agent of The Traveling Kidd in Central New Jersey. She specializes in planning travel for couples, friend getaways, and groups. She is a member of NACTA and entered the industry in 2010. Yo can contact Tracy at www.travelingkidd.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org