The easy way to attract new cruisers | Travel Research Online


The easy way to attract new cruisers

It is again time for me to get on my old soap box and suggest it is time for agents to stop selling the same old stuff…okay, okay, I know my CLIA training taught me to sell features and benefits but, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to talk about selling “new stuff.”  The good news is there are lots of “new stuff” you should be bringing to the attention of your customers and prospects.

My main takeaway for you cruise sellers out there is to focus daily on finding new cruisers, as well as working to retain your existing clients. I used to tell the agents in my training seminars they need to become human web browsers for their clients. They need to know what’s new in the travel industry because if the clients find it first…what do they need an agent for?

Fish where the fish are

Let’s face the facts. The last time I checked, 80% of all North Americans have never been on a cruise! With all the “new stuff” now available on all these new ships, that number hasn’t moved too much since 1996 when 92% had never cruised.

So, how did I grow my agency’s cruise sales to over $20 million a year? I took the advice from Bob Dickinson, retired Carnival President, when he told me to “fish where the fish are” and go after new cruisers. Established travel agents, and especially new home based agents, need to focus on fishing for new cruise clients and, the best bait is all the new stuff being offered today.

Discerning customers are your best fish

The good news is that with all the enhancements in Social Media marketing, it is very easy to regularly post travel industry news to the point of becoming seen as a travel expert. With the proper use of pictures and videos you can build your “followers” and “likes” very quickly.

Consumers are looking for something new to do on their next vacation. They want new things to do like zip lining. How about a post on learning how to enjoy zip lining on the new ships, along with your ability to sign them up for a series of zip line excursions in each port?

You can do the same thing with many of the onboard water parks, surfing machines, golf simulators and other “new stuff” amenities!

Family cruises are growing

The new ships have all kind of “new stuff” to help attract this growing cruise segment. Let’s start with all the dining choices and family style entertainment. Plus, there are more connecting cabins and some very accommodating family suites.

RCCL’s new Quantum of the Seas has all kinds of “new stuff” to offer. Not only do they offer surfing, ice-skating and zip lines; but they have also added bumper cars for the kids and adults alike! And speaking of kids, with the opening of the baseball season, it is a great time to tell everyone about MSC’s baseball cruises. Now there is a nice group in the making!

My favorite is NCL’s Waterfront on their two new ships, the Norwegian Breakaway and the Norwegian Getaway. Think of the Waterfront as a quarter-mile oceanfront boardwalk experience lined with restaurants, bars and spectacular views. Now you can enjoy a beautiful sunset from a table looking down at the sea.

Attracting new luxury clients

Who would ever think that the mass-market lines would have “new stuff” for luxury clients? NCL led the way when they introduced their huge Garden Suite complexes–still the largest at sea at 5,750 square feet.  Now they have “The Haven” where upscale clients can select from a great selection of luxurious and spacious suites in a private enclave, with all kinds of pampering available. Who wouldn’t enjoy their private courtyard with private pool, sundeck, hot tub and even fitness area?

You can also offer the same upscale concept on the Fantasia class ships of MSC. Their Yacht Club experience offers a selection of luxurious suites on the front of the ship. They have an opulent Concierge reception area, private pool and bar area, plus a private restaurant and private access to the MSC Aurea Spa. They also have complimentary “stuff” such as wines and spirits, butler service and nightly gourmet delights.

Speaking of “new stuff”, you now have two new cruise line choices for year round cruises out of Miami — NCL and MSC. We needed more competition in the year round Caribbean market to keep prices low in this all-important new cruiser market. To attract lots of new clients, we need innovative ships and great lead in offers. Think about it!

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 16 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 LarryNormanCTC@Gmail.comor leave a comment here.

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