Selling The Balcony Stateroom - Which Approach Do You Take?

by Ming Tappin

There is a reason why today's ships have so many balconies: clients are booking them.

Paint the picture for your clients - such as enjoying a glass of your favourite beverage on your private deck.  

A balcony offers private front row viewing of spectacular scenery, such as Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park. 

Capturing dramatic sunsets from their balcony is just one priceless moment clients will cherish.

So, offer up that balcony - and you'll have happy clients who will never book anything less.

Congratulations, your clients are booking their 1st cruise. From your expert guidance, they've chosen the perfect itinerary and ship. The next question is, what type of stateroom should they book?

You can take 2 approaches to answer this question. The 1st is to ask them what they would like, and the 2nd is to recommend what they should book. While most agents take the 1st route, the 2nd approach is far more effective. Here's why.

With a few exceptions of winning the lottery, getting an inheritance or some other kind of windfall, most clients are using hard earned dollars to pay for their vacation, and price invariably is a factor. It is also human nature to safeguard those dollars and spend as little as possible. So, if one is asked what type of stateroom they would like to book, the natural answer will be inside - because it is the least expensive.

First time cruisers are unaware of the differences in accommodations, therefore they solely look at price. You hear things like "I'm not going to be in my cabin very much" or "I'd rather put the money towards drinks & excursions". And it is easy to dismiss the need to pay more, because we don't miss what we don't know or have. So if you aren't offering up a better option, clients will always go with what they know, which is the cheapest price.

I myself am a perfect example. When I took my 1st cruise, I booked an inside cabin. I was that same client who said I wouldn't be in my cabin very much. But my travel agent also didn't suggest anything else, she simply booked me. Had she made the extra effort, I would have upgraded. This is still commonplace today. I have heard clients who booked an inside, then called closer to sailing to inquire about a balcony, only to be disappointed that they are sold out. Why didn't the agent offer the balcony at the time of booking? Most likely because she asked the client what they wanted, and they wanted inside.

We are in the business of making people's dreams come true, and just like amazing destinations, great cuisine and impeccable service, deluxe accommodation is also a big part of the dream. After all, the stateroom is the client's home away from home for the duration of their cruise, it deserves to be the very best for comfort and enjoyment. So, here is approach #2.

Instead of asking, recommend that they book a balcony stateroom. You've counselled them this far, don't stop advising now. Don't talk price right away, talk about benefits - the extra space a balcony offers, the freedom to access the outdoors, scenery and fresh air at any time. Use examples to paint the picture - sitting in your private deck space savouring room service, watching blazing sunsets, catching up on reading, or simply staring out to sea, being mesmerized by the peaceful lull of the waves. Who doesn't like these images? Once people can see themselves doing all that, they won't be interested in anything less.  

For your pricing presentation, use the per diem formula. Lay out all of the inclusions and benefits for $X dollars a day, and demonstrate the value of what they are getting.

True, there will always be clients who only book inside staterooms because the savings mean they can cruise more often. And there are those who only have a budget for an inside stateroom. But don't assume every client is like that - always offer the balcony, explain the benefits, and if the answer is still no, then at least you have done your part, and the client is making an informed decision.

I have never met anyone who didn't like having a balcony stateroom. When you see ships today that have 70% balconies, and some even are all-suites, all-balconies, it's because that’s what people want and you are missing something if you don’t have one!

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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