How many times have we heard clients struggle with the decision between picking a cruise or a land-based vacation? Why can’t they do both in the same vacation? There are some decision points that will determine if both, aka a cruise tour, is feasible. As the professional, this is where you can add so much value to their experience.
With the exception of Alaska many clients aren’t aware that land options can be added to just about any cruise itinerary offered. Alaska cruise tours are well promoted by the cruise lines; but I would surmise the majority of clients aren’t aware of the cruise tour options in Europe, New England / Canada, Asia, South America, etc. And if a cruise line doesn’t offer the cruise tour experience that a client wants, their travel professional (aka YOU) can create it for them.
What should you be asking your clients?
If a client asks for a cruise quote, part of the qualifying process should be to ask them if they want to enhance their cruise experience. Besides shore excursions, off them a pre and/or post cruise land addition. The cruise itinerary doesn’t dictate if land can or can’t be added. Even on a straight-up Caribbean cruise, pre/post cruise land opportunities are available. The most common examples are the Disney World and Universal Studios additions added by Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean cruising out of Port Canaveral. But pre/post stays can be added to cruises in Miami, Ft Lauderdale, New Orleans, Galveston, Bayonne, etc. Ultimately the length of an land addition will be dictated by a client’s schedule and budget.
Adding a land tour especially makes sense when clients are embarking on the cruise outside of the US. For so many people, a trip to Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. are once in a life time trips. Why not maximize their experience by adding on a land tour? Cruises are amazing, but there are some destinations they simply can’t reach. Denali National Park and Ayers Rock are prime examples. If you simply cruise, you’ll never see some of the most amazing beauty that nature has to offer.
What if they don’t like what cruise lines offer?
The cruise lines offer cruise tours on so many itineraries, but they cannot offer every possible land opportunity. The cruise lines have a variety of land tours that can be added on in Alaska, ranging from 3 nights to 8 nights on land. Some include Fairbanks, others don’t. Just about all of them combine train and bus transportation, but none of them offer exclusively train transportation. Some include Talkeetna, others don’t. You get the picture.
So what if your client doesn’t love any of the options offered by the cruise lines? That’s when we can shine as travel professionals. Sticking with the Alaska example, there are tour companies, wholesalers, and the Alaska Railroad that we can use to customize any land tour a client desires. The only limitations are the client’s imagination, budget, and timetable. The same holds true for Europe, and all other cruise destinations.
Show me the money
If assisting your clients isn’t enough to convince you to suggest land tour options every time, think about the commission. Whether adding a cruise line option or customizing your own, the commission earned can sometimes dwarf the cruise-only commission.
Ultimately, every time a client asks about a cruise, we should be asking if them if they want to added on time before or after the cruise. We are more than cruise booking engines. We are consultants, and clients don’t know what they don’t know, until we educate them on their choices.
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.