Cruise Experts Share Insider Info & Trends At TMR Conference

Open Jaw
by Martha Chapman

The Cruise Panel comprised Beverly Vickers of Regent Seven Seas, Dana Gain of NCL and Sandra Gardiner of AmaWaterways

Many enthusiastic TPI agents attended the conference and enjoyed the Panel

Canadians can’t get enough of cruising – and Canadian agents love to sell it. But as the segment matures and expands, know-how comes at a premium. And where better to get way up on the down low than from the cruise panel at this week’s Travel Market Report conference in Toronto?

The 3rd such annual event, the conference drew some 400 suppliers and agents, many of whom listened attentively to the panel, which comprised Dana Gain, National Director of Sales for Norwegian Cruise Line; Sandra Gardiner, National Accounts Manager/Canada for AmaWaterways and Beverly Vickers, Director of Sales & Marketing/Eastern Canada for Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Here are some of their insights:

  • River cruises remain the fastest-growing concept in travel – interestingly, people used to book the cheapest staterooms 1st. That’s now reversed.   Also, the booking window, which used to be 12 to 18 months is shrinking.
  • Small ship cruising is getting a lot of attention – most clients have cruised 3 to 5 times before. Enrichment/learning opportunities are huge with this market “not just production [stage] shows”.
  • Cruisers love “new” ports of call such as Greenland & Iceland or itineraries that sail around the U.K.
  • How to upsell? First: not from your own pocket. Forget what you can afford. Ask open-ended questions and sit back and listen. Even when there’s silence. The client will feel compelled to fill in the silence with more info about their wishes, impressions and needs. And take notes.
  • Listen for the “Buts” e.g. “We loved the ship on our last holiday. The food was fantastic and the crew were really good but we found our cabin just too small.”
  • When clients return is a great touch point. Not only should you welcome them home and appreciate their input about the experience (that you can share with other clients!) but it’s a great time to ask them where they’d like to go next and make a note to follow up on that.
  • Smart agents are capitalizing on the “buy local” trend.  Not only can you take advantage of the consumer protection you can offer in many provinces but your clients can actually meet with you face-to-face. Can’t say that about some online agency!

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