A Sure Win With Pre & Post Cruise Stays

by Ming Tappin

Visiting La Sagrada Familia and other Gaudi masterpieces will fill your days in BCN. Don't miss them!

The perfect table for a lunch break from our Bosphorous day cruise - only doable if you stay extra nights in IST.

Pre/post stays allow you to see and feel the port city at night - on the bustling Damrak in AMS.

Of course, sampling local cuisine is one of the joys of extended stays - me and my sardines in ATH.

As a cruise seller, do you make it a habit to always offer your clients a pre and post stay?

These days the biggest reason for a pre-cruise stay is so clients don't miss the ship in case of flight or weather delays. Since airfare is usually arranged independently, building in an extra day at the embarkation port is essential.A pre-cruise stay also gives travellers a break in their journey, especially if the embarkation point requires a long flight from home. An overnight stay allows a breather after the flight and an opportunity to adjust to the new time zone.

But beyond these logistical reasons, travel agents should be recommending an add-on stay to further enhance the client's experience and of course to make more profit!

With vibrant embarkation ports such as Miami and Rio, historical centres such as Rome and Athens, and tropical oases such as Dubai and Papeete, how can clients travel all the way there, only to immediately leave again? Yet many do.

There could be many reasons why this happens. Maybe the cruise is already at the top end of the client's budget. Or sometimes the assumption is made that the client isn't interested in land because they did not ask for it.

During the sales process, I highly encourage agents to include pre and post cruise stays as a part of every conversation. Just because a client has a budget does not mean they won't go over it if there is a valid reason. Many clients may not ask about a land extension because it hadn't cross their mind. But if they are presented the package as a way to enhance their experience, where they are shown the added value and the emotional appeal, you might be able to convince them.

Don't let your clients get onboard their cruise, jet-lagged and weary, only to meet people who rave about their pre-cruise stay and bragging about their upcoming post-cruise tour. Not only did your clients miss out, you did too.

Packaging a pre and post cruise stay is a great opportunity to increase your margins. Work with your favourite supplier who can provide commissionable hotels and tours, or net rates for you to mark up. Bundled packages are attractive to clients because they represent convenience and inclusiveness.

And if they truly cannot commit to the extra time and budget, then you have done your job and there is always next time. At least now you have planted the seed, and on their next cruise they will be more open to the idea.

I have had so many amazing moments on my own pre and post cruise stays - exploring the the Plaka district in Athens where I ate sardines and moussaka; making friends with the resident cats as I roamed the opulent Topkapi Palace in Istanbul; pondering the Mona Lisa and sipping champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Yes they all cost extra time and money, but each was priceless to me. I must thank my wonderful travel agent for suggesting these - oh ya, that would be me.

So on your next cruise inquiry, be sure to offer up the pre and post stay, and everyone will come out a winner.

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 36 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of Your Cruise Coach Consulting.

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