(l-r)Donella Chong,Uniglobe One Travel; Marta Novkovic, Maritime Travel & Julia Jiang, Premiere International Travel Ltd.
Oceania Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises & Regent Seven Seas hosted close to 70 travel partners last week at Vancouver's Marine Drive Golf Club for breakfast and their product updates. In a previous column I had written about the importance of upselling clients to luxury cruises, selling value over price and not being afraid to recommend luxury. All of these messages were reiterated by every presenter who took the stage.
Through a value comparison chart, Samantha Jervis of Regent Seven Seas showed agents how to overcome sticker shock by explaining all of Regent's inclusions. Once broken down, Regent's per diem often comes very close to the less-inclusive premium brands while providing a luxury experience on intimate ships.
Vicky Lubyk of Paul Gauguin Cruises compared selling luxury cruises to completing a jigsaw puzzle. The agent's task is to piece together the complex needs of the luxury client with the right destination and a suitable cruise line to form a perfect fit.
Cathy Denroche of Oceania Cruises also gave us a terrific sales technique, with an analogy of one's life spread out in 90” on a tape measure; a year for every inch. Have your clients identify their age on the tape measure, point to what's left, and deliver the message: Don't wait to treat yourself to the luxury that you so deserve.
The low CAD, coupled with the fact that most luxury brands are priced only in USD has been a hot topic these days, but agents need to adapt to this reality. Our dollar is also low against both the € and the £, yet clients continue to book Europe at $1.50 and the U.K. at $2.00. So why would we assume a $1.40 USD would deter clients from purchasing a cruise? Agents are reminded to advocate the value instead of the exchange, and not to assume that clients cannot afford USD. Marta Novkovic of Maritime Travel agrees - her clientele is mostly retired and has the means to travel. She is not afraid to offer luxury, and as a result has met with success.
Julia Jiang of Premiere International Travel found the session tremendously educational. Most of her clients book mass market cruises and she is looking forward to moving them up to premium and luxury. The semi-inclusive Oceania, ultra all-inclusive Regent and niche player Paul Gauguin certainly provide lots of opportunities for us to do so, and to do it well. Let's all break out the tape measure, and happy upselling!
Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 37 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of www.yourcruisecoach.com.