Save Or Splurge Part 3 - Points To Ponder When Booking A Cruise
by Ming Tappin
Pre and post cruise stays are a great way to augment a memorable cruise, such as Paris after our river cruise.
Cruise line arranged packages come with meet and greet services, as well as onsite representative.
Full transfers between hotel and pier are also included with cruise line packages.
When it comes to DIY hotels, clients can save by booking a basic bed for a night sleep.
Or Splurge for a million dollar view.
Pre/Post Cruise Stays
In a previous column, I had written about the reasons to sell pre and post cruise stays, which you can read here. While this isn't an onboard expenditure, it is nevertheless something that will impact your clients' overall cruise experience. And pre and post stays do come with different options and price points, where clients can choose to save or splurge.
Cruise lines offer packaged stays, where accommodations and transfers are included. Some may also include meals and sightseeing. Hotels and suppliers used are of high quality, with a reputation that the cruise line is confident and proud to be associated with. Clients are met on arrival and usually have access to an onsite representative during their stay for questions and assistance.
The biggest benefit of booking a cruise line package is that everything is booked with one supplier. Your clients have one booking number and one credit card charge. If there are any questions, changes or issues, you make one phone call to one company. Plus, someone else has done all the work of putting the package together for you. Cruise line packages are generally the most expensive option, but the convenience and the time it saves you outweigh the price.
The 2ndoption is to use a tour operator that offers pre and post cruise packages. They can be just as inclusive and may cost a little less than what the cruise line charges. You may also earn a higher commission. But your clients will have to pay a 2ndvendor, and you have to deal with a 2ndsupplier, make a separate booking, apply a 2ndpayment and get a 2ndset of documents. A little extra work on your part but your clients might save a little.
The 3rdoption of packaging stays on your own might be the cheapest for the client but might mean the most work and least profit for you. If you go this route, be prepared to research well and use well-known, international hotel chains. If using overseas tour companies, be sure to check on the company's reputation, terms and conditions, hours of operations and their availability to handle problems.
Should you look at 3, 4 or 5-star hotels? That depends on your clients' budget, but most importantly the stay should mirror the quality of the cruise. Don't book your luxury cruise guests in a 3-star hotel to economize. The transition will be too glaring - you want to ensure they spend their entire trip at the same level.
Arranging FIT transfers is probably the most complicated, especially in foreign countries or in smaller embarkation ports. While airport to hotel transfers are prevalent, transfers between hotel and pier are generally harder to arrange, other than having your clients take a taxi, or arrange a private car. When booking separate components, you need to be on top of your game. The higher the number of suppliers involved, the more complicated it can get in case of problems, changes or cancellations.
Time and time again I have heard the mantra in travel agent training: we are not here to save our clients money(and we're certainly not here to make less money) - rather, we are here to provide the best value vacation that combines convenience and peace of mind for them. Clients engage the services of a travel agent for their expertise, convenience and time saving. Let's put these reasons to good use, for them and for you.
Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 37 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of www.yourcruisecoach.com.