Cruising - Building Strength In Numbers

by Ming Tappin

CLIA declares October as National Plan a Cruise Month, and helps agents get business on the books.

2016 Cruise stats are available on CLIA's website

TV shows such as the Love Boat helped put cruising on the map.

Today's ships are outfitted with the latest amusement park style rides and shows to attract 1st timers.

Let's all go out and spread the word about the amazing world of cruising!

Happy October and it's National Plan A Cruise Month! What started as National Cruise Vacation month - an initiative created by CLIA in 2004 - is still going strong. When it was first launched, the yearly event would culminate with The World's Largest Cruise Night. Agencies were encouraged to host consumer events on a designated day, with the goal to maximize cruise bookings over a 24 hr. period with one-day-only consumer incentives. Today the event as well as the offers have evolved to span an entire month.

So if you haven't noticed, CLIA and the cruise lines are certainly kicking it up a notch this month to get more heads to beds, so to speak. I hope you are also taking the lead in promoting cruising to your clients and helping them plan their upcoming winter getaway, and next summer's vacation.

Cruise lines spend millions in marketing and creating awareness of their brands to pique consumer interest. And most of you know lot a lot of people and clients who have cruised. But surprisingly, these numbers represent a very small demographic. Stats collected by CLIA in 2014 showed just over 11 million Americans and 800,000 Canadians have cruised. According to CLIA's projections, 24 million people from around the world will be taking a cruise in 2016. While this may sound impressive, it pales in comparison to the over 42 million visitors LAS enjoyed last year, and the 38.5 million who visited the Disney Parks in CA and FL. Clearly, we have our work cut out for us!

To that end, cruise lines are building new ships and introducing creative innovations to capture the landlubber market. Broadway musicals & Cirque-style shows, amusement park rides, celebrity chef restaurants and cartoon characters have all been brought onboard in recent years in an attempt to replicate the Disney & Vegas experience, and to win over the land-vacationing crowd.

TV has also played a role in putting cruising in the spotlight. We all know that the Love Boat put leisure cruising and Princess Cruises on the map. Then, along came Kathie Lee Gifford in the 80's, singing the praises of Carnival Cruise Lines. TV advertising is still effective today - just look at what Viking did for river cruising with their ads on PBS. Others have now followed suit, as cruise ads are now appearing on regular TV programming as well as major sports broadcasts such as the Super Bowl. And it isn't just advertising either. Shows such as Discovery Channel's Mighty Cruise Ships and CBS's Undercover Boss feature cruising. And most recently, Carnival Corporation has announced 3 new TV shows that will showcase cruising on all of its 10 brands. 

Of course the best form of advertising is by word of mouth and referrals. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service because someone they know has good things to say about it. When your enthusiasm and passion for cruising comes across clearly to your clients, they will entrust you to plan their first cruise experience. Similarly, ask your existing cruise clients to spread the word. Always end your welcome home call with a referral request. Everyone loves to brag about their vacation experience when they return, so enlist their help in bringing on new cruisers, and they can also help you gain a new client. It's a win-win for all.

We are extremely lucky to be in an industry where our supplier partners do so much to generate business for us. Wishing you success in cruise selling this month, and always.

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 38 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of

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