Cruising & Groups: Happy Clients, Happy Agents

by Ming Tappin

Save or Splurge: Ship accommodations have tremendous choice for all budgets within the group.

Family groups unite: Kids of all ages are well taken care of onboard ships. 

Cruising is perfect for meetings and incentive groups, with group coordinator and dedicated meeting space.

Don't forget special occasions & reunions - here I am with our family during our anniversary cruise. 

At a cruise training session earlier this year, a statistic was mentioned that the most successful agencies book 50-80% of their cruise business in groups. How much group business currently makes up your cruise portfolio? 

Simply put, cruising is completely conducive to group travel. I cannot think of another form of vacation where groups can travel together, unpack once, visit exotic locales and have their every whim be catered to. Unlike a resort where one size fits all, cruise ships have so much more to offer to each traveller's unique needs.

Ships have a myriad of accommodation categories to cater to the entire group -  luxury suites, roomy balconies, budget-friendly ocean views and insides. Some ships also have solo cabins to accommodate singles. The wide range in price presents an equal chance for everyone to save or splurge.

Cruise cuisine is guaranteed to satisfy not only the pickiest eaters but also those with dietary needs or allergies. Between buffets, dining rooms, specialty restaurants, poolside grills and room service offering all types of cuisine, every member of the group will be sufficiently satisfied.

Those with children can take advantage of the complimentary programs catering to all age groups from toddlers to teens. Parents can enjoy as much family or private time as they wish, knowing that their children will be well cared for by professional nannies, youth and teen counsellors. 

The best part of the cruise environment in my opinion, is that everyone can partake in his or her favourite activities without sacrificing to someone else. Those who want to lay by the pool and sip pina coladas all day can do so without having to compromise those who want to spend their entire time in the gym, spa, casino, etc. And everyone can share amazing stories of their day when they reconvene at dinner.

Going ashore also allows plenty of freedom. A variety of excursions cater to all interests; customized tour itineraries and private group transportation can be easily arranged. Or again, everyone can do their own thing and regroup at the end of the day.

On the backend, all cruise lines offer incentives for groups in the form of group amenities. Bonuses such as shipboard credits, cocktail parties, upgrades and more are great extras for your clients; while bonus commission and tour conductor credits add to your bottom line in addition to regular commissions of at least 10%. Although not openly advertised, most cruise lines protect client amenities back to cabin 1 even if you fall short of the standard group size, so you really have nothing to lose.

Cruise lines will work with you throughout the life of your group. Shoreside group co-ordinators can help you tailor each group's needs, whether it is booking function space, assigning dining reservations or arranging cabin gift deliveries. While onboard, each ship has a designated group co-ordinator who will personally welcome the group and be available to answer questions, fulfill requests or resolve issues.

Doesn't this all make sense? When you consider how easy it is to block and manage group space and how quickly a group can fill - people love to travel with others they know - cruising is a most logical choice. Group clients are everywhere - family reunions, special occasions, clubs and associations, sports and hobbies, meetings and incentives. Put them on ships! They will enjoy a wonderful vacation that and you will enjoy repeat and referral business, and a spike to your earnings.

 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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