Deal Or No Deal: A Closer Look At Cruise Promos

by Ming Tappin

Make sure a benefit such as free drinks is meaningful to your clients before promoting.

All promos come with T&C - make sure you know the rules & restrictions.

Promos are time sensitive & may have sailing restrictions.

Be careful not to just sell on price. Sell your value and expertise.

With so many promotional offers available in the marketplace, cruise lines are certainly doing their part to bring more clients onboard. But cruise deals, like cruise ships, are not one-size-fits-all. Here are a few tips to follow.

Know What's Out There

Each cruise line generally has one big offer running for at least a month or 2. These offers generally apply to sailings further out, thus encouraging early booking. In addition, there are also "limited time" offers, which generally apply to last minute, closer-in sailings where the cruise line needs to fill beds. Resident, senior and military rates are also popular promos offered by most lines. 

Be Aware of the Fine Print

The promo might be attractive, but make sure you read the fine print and T&C before telling your customers about it. Many promos do not combine with certain fares. Some require booking a certain category type, yet others require non-refundable payments. Knowing all the rules will save you from scrambling for information when the inquiry comes in, and the embarrassment of telling clients after the fact that they don't qualify.

Consider Your Bottom Line

Finding a 7 night cruise for $399 might make you a hero in the eyes of your customer, but consider how much you’re really earning at the end of the day. NCF will count for at least $100-150, so your commission isn't going to be huge. Remember you still have to spend time processing the booking and servicing the client, and that time is money too. If you must sell the $399, try to make revenue elsewhere such as selling add-ons and insurance.

Do Not Sell on Price

In addition to watching out for your bottom line, you should also be mindful of selling on price. Clients who buy based on price will buy from someone else who offers a lower price. Upsell to better accommodations and more inclusive cruises; most importantly, demonstrate the value you bring to your clients and why they should book with you.

Positioning Added Value Correctly

Almost every cruise line now offers added value in their promos - the most popular being beverage package, prepaid gratuities and onboard credit. A good way to sell the benefit is to indicate its dollar value. People like to see what they are getting in dollars and cents. Showing a client that the beverage package is worth $500, or prepaid gratuities $250 puts it into better perspective than just saying that drinks and grats are included.

But before playing up any of these benefits, know your customers first. The industry is flogging free drinks because it is the biggest barrier between an AI vacation and a cruise. But if your clients don't drink, it means nothing to them, so the free drinks promo you are so excited about isn't a deal at all. Sometimes a promo also comes with a higher price, because it has been built into the price. So if the added value isn't applicable, ask if there is a stripped down base price.

Cruise promos can help you close more sales, and bring on new cruisers. Your time and effort in getting to know them will pay off in good time.

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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