It’s November, and if you live anywhere outside of Florida, you can feel Winter nipping at your nose. So, it’s time to focus sales on Alaska. I’m sure that sounds counterintuitive. The calls will start coming in soon enough asking for cruises to “somewhere warm.” In the meantime, several travel advisors are seeing an uptick in Alaska requests. For now the focus is on 2019, but the 2020 itineraries are starting to open for booking. Royal Caribbean just opened 2020 sailings and the rest of the cruise lines will be following suit over the new few weeks.
Why focus on Alaska in the Fall? First, competitive pricing for the cruises. The 2019 prices are already increasing, so getting clients to book now will lock them into prices before they climb any more. To ensure the best prices for the 2020 season, clients should consider booking as soon as those itineraries become available (as in now). Alaska is a destination that often sells out, and price drops are not common.
The second reason is that if you have clients that are specifically looking to include a land tour with their Alaska cruise, don’t wait. For clients that prefer the flexibility of a land tour that’s booked outside of cruise line offerings, the early bird definitely gets the inventory. Land inventory just opened last month for FIT bookings. Already several nights in the 2019 season are sold out at lodges around and inside of Denali National Park. The longer clients wait to solidify their land itineraries, the harder it will be for them to experience their ideal Alaskan adventure.
And finally, the further out that client’s book, the easier it is for them to make payments over time. Booking a 2020 cruise now will not only give them the best pricing, but they’ll have 15 to 16 months to pay off the balance. That might be enough time to include two tax refunds and a bonus or two at work.
Marketing at this time of year needs to be a thoughtful, directed effort. As we move into the holiday season, booking vacations may take a back burner to shopping, decorating and holiday parties. Make a plan to reach out to clients that have previously expressed interest in cruising Alaska. Let them know when the itineraries have opened for booking and that prices are at their lowest now for the 2020 season. And as always, reach out to your cruise Business Development Managers (BDMs) and enlist their help.
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.