In January north of the equator, it’s not surprising that it’s cold outside. When it snows the phone rings, and the email inbox implodes. Clients want out. They want to cruise “somewhere warm.” Are you running into the same issues that I’m seeing? I’m getting calls and emails from clients wanting out NOW. They want last minute cruises to warmer destinations south of here, but they have been shocked (possibly disappointed is a better word) by the lack of cutthroat low-priced, last-minute deals. They are surprised to hear sailings are sold out, or the room category they want is sold out or outrageously priced.
The way I see it, this is great for us in a couple of different ways. Of course last minute bookings with higher cruise fares will garner higher commissions for us. Also last minute bookings will pay commissions almost immediately (no waiting eighteen months before seeing a check). But it is also great in another way: This is an opportunity to continue in educating our clients as well as the general public. As the cruise lines continue with their policy of price integrity, the fire sales of years ago are no more. These policies have only been in place for approximately the last eighteen months or so; still relatively new for many clients that haven’t cruised in the past couple of years.
As we get those “cruise somewhere warm NOW” calls and emails, we have an opportunity to educate our clients. Don’t talk them out of cruising, and definitely give them the cruise quote that they are asking for when they call you. If they don’t balk at the pricing, take that credit card and get them booked. However, with those clients that experience sticker shock, this may be a chance to educate them and talk about booking a cruise for next winter. One thing is for sure: it’ll be cold next January. Give them a quote for this year as well as next year, and let them see the benefits of planning ahead.
A recent example I have been using as an illustration is a client booked for this April. They booked last summer into group space I had blocked spring 2014. Before processing their final payment this week, I rechecked the pricing. Their room category has shockingly increased by $2,200 per person. They are more than happy with their $4,700 price tag whereas anyone booking that exact same cruise today will be paying $9,100. When I told them of the current pricing, they admitted that if they had to pay $9,100 they would not be going on the cruise.
If a client calls you wanting to cruise now but the cost doesn’t work into their budget, you have two options: lose the sale because they can’t afford it, or work with them to plan and book in advance. If someone wanted to book the April cruise I referenced above, they could pay $9,100 to cruise in two and half months, or they can pay $5,300 for a similar itinerary in twelve to fifteen months. An immediate sale and immediate commission is the most attractive, but when that’s not possible, then the delayed commission to a much better option is better than no commission at all.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.