Don't Be Afraid To Sell Luxury Cruises

by Ming Tappin

Size matters - play up on the small ship size and exclusive experience levels on a luxury cruise.

Sell the enhanced service levels and gourmet cuisine that comes with a luxury experience.

Intangible details such as little pampering touches separate luxury from the rest. 

Sell travel as an investment - to de-stress, refresh your mind and overall well being. 

Many travel agents have told me that one of the most common obstacles they face is selling luxury cruises. While no one has problems selling a 7-night mass market cruise at $999, many are unsure they can sell a 7night luxury cruise at $4,999.

With travel being so price-driven, how do agents overcome this hurdle?

Let's begin by looking at examples of luxury sellers outside of cruising.

The salesperson at Hermes does not flinch when presenting a $25,000 purse to a customer. The focus is on the quality of design, workmanship, exclusivity and the emotional experience of owning such a luxury item... not on the pricetag.

At Mercedes Benz, they don't apologize for or try to justify the cost of their cars. Instead of assuming the customer cannot afford one, the belief is that they can.

Clearly, other luxury brand sellers have a mindset that their product is worth the cost, and they present the benefits of that product in a confident manner.   

Selling a luxury cruise should not be any different.

The key is to not sell out of your own pocket. Consider a new strategy: Forget about the price for now, and concentrate on the cruise itself. 

First, focus on the biggest benefit of the all-inclusiveness - which isn't always about what's included. Don't rely on the "free alcohol" card to win the game. Today many clients do not drink very much by choice or due to health reasons.

Rather, emphasize the carefree experience on a luxury cruise - it's the convenience of having everything included that you want to get across. 

Elaborate on the expected experience - the personalized service, exclusive atmosphere, emotional enjoyment - all of which are intangible but priceless qualities.

Use statistics wisely. When it's a 30,000GRT ship with 300 pax and 180 crew, what does it really mean to the customer? Recall the good old Features and Benefits presentation you learned in Selling 101 - every fact should be accompanied by how it positively affects the client's experience.

If your discussion hinges on the right messages, the pricing conversation will be smooth. Breaking down the total into per diems can also help the client see things more clearly.

It is at this moment that you remove your fear or uncertainty in your voice. Speak as if you buy luxury. Spending $700 a day on a cruise may be out of the question for you, but remember that it is your clients buying this cruise, not you. 

Refrain from describing luxury cruises as being "more expensive", "costs more" or "higher priced". Using words that describe the cost in a negative way projects an attitude that the product is unworthy.

Instead, be enthusiastic about the value, convenience and experience that the per diem represents. Believe in your power to convince and don't waver.

Lastly, bring investment into the picture. People don't associate a vacation with investment because it is not a tangible product such as a work of art, a car or cash. But a vacation is an investment in our well being. It reduces stress, strengthens bonds with spouse and family, and educates our mind. Use this fact to upsell - you are investing in yourself and you deserve the best.

I encourage you to try these tactics and start offering luxury cruises to your qualified clients. With practice, you will become more confident and the bookings will come. 

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 is the Owner of Your Cruise Coach Consulting

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