We are in the midst of Hanukkah right now, and Christmas is only a few days away. You might get a last minute call from a client wanting a cruise for the holidays this year, but this isn’t the time to actually market 2017 holiday sailings. However, this is a great time to start marketing to clients about booking their cruises for Hanukkah or Christmas 2018 or even 2019 (some cruise lines have already released their 2019-2020 itineraries for booking).
Families are getting together over the next couple of weeks. It’s a great time to plant the seed for them to discuss their holiday plans for the next couple of years, while they are together for the holidays now. In-person communication will make the discussion easier (and faster) for them, compared to going back and forth for weeks or months via email, text or Facebook messages, etc.
If they book for the 2019 holidays now, they can lock in the lower rates as itineraries are just starting to open for booking now. In the unlikely event of prices dropping before final payment, their bookings can be modified to the lower rates (noting they’ll lose any amenities like onboard credit offered on their original booking). The exception is if prices drop after final payment (again, highly unlikely). At that point you can try to secure them an upgrade for their original price paid.
Target your marketing messages to the family members that are tasked with the cooking, cleaning and general holiday prep and stress. Yes, in many families that would be mom or grandma. But if you know your clients well enough, and know that dad is the real cook, target him as well. Emphasize how great it is to enjoy the holidays without the stress of planning, cooking or cleaning. Include pictures of cruise ships that are decked out with Christmas decorations. Also talk about the ports of call; all of those ports that are nowhere near snow!
Also, don’t forget to focus on the benefit of setting up payment plans. Yes, Christmas cruises price higher as that’s one of the busiest cruise weeks of the year. By booking their Christmas 2018 cruise now, they have roughly 9 months to make payments before the final payment date. Christmas 2019 cruises would give them approximately 21 months of payments to chip away at that total cruise price. The more time that they have to pay, the less that those higher prices will hurt.
Spend this weekend and next week reaching out to your clients. Plant the seed of a holiday cruise next year or in 2019. Urge them to take the time during the holidays this year to discuss it with family members. Give them brochures, flyers, e-postcards, or anything other marketing material that you can think of, and have them share with their family members.
You never know, you might jumpstart your wave season with some holiday bookings!
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.