Agents are a vital link in attracting new to cruise passengers, says Claire Brighton, senior commercial manager for Advantage Travel Partnership.
The world of cruise is very exciting, but for a customer the array of choices offered can be daunting. Here is where your role as the agent is vital, particularly for those who are new to cruising.
For you to select the right cruise line, destination and even ship for your customer it is crucial that you are aware of all the options available. This is why training is so important.
Most agents will not be able to become fully trained on every brand, ship and destination available, particularly if your agency is not a cruise specialist, so it may be necessary for you make a choice which cruise lines you specialise in.
You could look to choose a certain sector of the cruise market depending on your customer base i.e. luxury, river or mainstream or you could ensure you are fully trained on a minimum of one cruise line in each of the sectors. But whatever you decide, customers will look to you to help them make their perfect cruise choice.
So for you to ensure that you get the right cruise for each and every customer, there are a series of important questions that have to be asked.
Who is looking to cruise, are they travelling as a family, couple or maybe a group of friends?
Destination is also key and what sort of experiences your customers are looking for once they are in that destination – are they a ‘culture vulture’ or maybe a ‘beach bum’?
When on board, are your customers looking for a relaxed atmosphere, is it all about the kids facilities or are they hoping for an educational and more enriching experience?
In addition to this, what sort of size ship are they looking for?
We all know that the cuisine is a huge part of the cruise experience but because in general the food is so good on every line this is often a question that gets forgotten.
But it is really important to establish if your customer is looking for a fine dining experience every day, a more relaxed dining situation or is it key for your customers to have a vast array of options open to them every day.
Finally, and probably most importantly, price is key and unfortunately this has become more important in recent years.
However, the cost implications don’t end once the cruise is sold.
So if your customers enjoy a fine wine or maybe want to look at shore excursions in every port, talk to them about this in advance and look through the huge selection of campaigns in the marketplace to see if you can match one to them.
There is a cruise out there for everyone, but make sure you get the right cruise for your customer and they will come back to you time and time again.