Selling Cruises Is Your Pathway To Profits

by Ming Tappin

May 6th was Travel Agent Day, and I hope everyone took a moment to reflect on your choice of profession and feel a sense of pride. I certainly am grateful to be in the exciting world of cruising.

Passion and perks aside, our goal in this business is to be profitable. But between commission cuts and rock-bottom prices, sometimes we wonder how we can ever survive.

There is a way - and that's by selling more cruises.

A cruise vacation is one of the most profitable products a travel agency can offer its clients. With commission rates starting at 10%, or more if you belong to a consortium, it already wins out over land products and airline tickets.

With focus and dedication, increasing commission rates to 15% or beyond is certainly realistic and attainable.

With cruises, there usually are add-on components – airfare; pre or post hotels; excursions; insurance. All of which can help increase your earnings per booking.

Bon Voyage!
With new ships on the horizon, guests have lots of choices to suit their needs.
Cruises are perfect for family looking for time together, or apart!

Cruises are perfect for groups – friends; families; weddings; meetings and incentives. Cruise lines have rich group programs offering bonus commission and tour conductor credits... more income opportunities for you.

In short, it makes great financial sense for every agency to sell more cruises. And I can confidently say that every agency has potential cruisers. If you have clients who return from a resort complaining of hard beds, poor service, bland and repetitive food choices.. you have cruisers. Clients who are exhausted from multiple hotel stays and endless hours spent on a motor coach should be cruising. Parents who want alone-time during their vacation while wanting a quality children's program are ideal candidates.

A cruise is a safe bet for a great vacation experience. At the end of every sailing, guests are asked to rate their experience. Statistically, the satisfaction rate has been in the high 90s. No other form of vacation consistently receives such high marks.

Yet surprisingly, according to stats published this year by CLIA, only 4% of North Americans have cruised. This means there are huge opportunities for you to tap into. And to help you land these clients and pave a pathway to profits, cruise lines are marketing to new cruisers and are very supportive of agencies' efforts to do so as well.

Between now and 2020, 33 new ocean and 22 new river ships will set sail, catering to all budgets, tastes and demographics. This is a serious commitment to help you grow this business.

Cruise fares are now more affordable than ever. 20 years ago, you could not book an Alaska cruise for under $2,000 per person. Today, a cabin can be had for less than 1/2 that price. This has certainly made cruising affordable to the mass market.

A note here about the lower prices, and the dreaded NCFs which are always hot topics of discussion. While NCFs are controlled by cruise lines, industry authorities such as ACTA and ASTA are lobbying on our behalf to address this important matter, hopefully with positive results in the long run. In the meantime, aim to sell ancillary products to compensate, or focus on the cruise lines that do not break out NCFs.

Learn to focus on value - and educate your clients on this value - instead of price. Sailings that offer incentives such as prepaid gratuities, beverage, dining packages and shipboard credits, or all-inclusive cruises, provide a hassle-free experience for your clients.

Let's go out there and tell the world to go on a cruise. It's good for your customers, and great for your bottom line.

Trains, planes and automobiles - selling cruise add-ons increases your revenue.
Don't forget the room with a view - a pre/post hotel boosts your clients' enjoyment and your commission.

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with 20 years' experience in the industry and has sailed on 36 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is passionate about cruising and has just launched Your Cruise Coach Consulting. Visit

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