Let’s face it, for most of us it’s easy booking your standard 7 night cruises in the Caribbean. We might sprinkle in a few Alaska or New England cruises, and maybe they’ll be longer than 7 nights. However, at the end of the day, we’re in a rut. Clients want a cruise, and they don’t know any better, so they ask for 7 nights in the Caribbean.
As travel advisors, how many of us actually consult with our clients and help them expand their horizons? Of course there are some clients that cannot get passports for various reasons, so they are limited to closed loop cruises out of the US, meaning the Caribbean, or round trip Alaska or New England cruises. But those clients are not in the majority. Most clients can get passports, or already have one. So what are we doing to educate them about their options?
Part of qualifying our clients extends beyond their current travel request. We should be asking about what they want to do, see, or visit in the future. Do you have a client that dreams of seeing the beautiful bleached white and blue buildings of Santorini? Or maybe they was to visit China? I have had several clients with dreams to visit more exotic places but they didn’t want to travel alone, and being “stuck” on a tour with other travelers wasn’t appealing to the either. The secret? They didn’t realize that they could visit many places via cruise ship; a mode of transportation they are already comfortable with because of the dozen Caribbean cruises they’ve already experienced.
Maybe you’re faced with a client has “been there, done that” visiting just about every cruse port offered in the Caribbean, and they want something new. Of course the next evolution of cruising that you might offer them is Alaska or New England. But once they’ve cruised those destinations, they fall into the “been there, done that” category as well. So what next? Do you rack your brains and find that one island they haven’t been to yet? Do you try a different Alaska itinerary, hoping for a port of call that doesn’t repeat what they’ve already seen there? Or do you help them branch out?
And don’t stick to just blue water (ocean) cruises. If you are not familiar the river cruise sector, make it one of your 2017 resolutions to educate yourself on this lucrative and exploding market. You probably have at least a faint familiarity with river cruising in Europe, but how about in the US? China? Africa? These are great alternatives for clients that don’t want to do a bus tour. River cruises are significantly smaller in passengers onboard, but larger than the number of people on a tour bus. So clients concerned about being “stuck” on a bus with 40-50 other people may be more comfortable on a river cruise of 100-150 passengers. The mode of transportation is also more comfortable, with the advantage of only unpacking once on the river cruise ship (no hotel hopping).
So make a 2017 resolution to help your clients get out of the rut of only cruising the Caribbean this year. Find out what they dream about seeing or doing, and help them make it happen!
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.