Cruise1st: travel agents, selling cruise, travel, cruise, Cruise1st, UK travel agents

Trade secrets: Cruise1st advises on how to sell more cruise holidays

We speak to cruise sales manager at Cruise1st, Lee Ashton, who reveals the ultimate trade secrets about how travel agents can boost sales in cruise holidays.

If you have a first-time cruiser in front of you, where would you recommend they go and why? 

This all depends on the client. What is their vision of a cruise? It is about the relaxation onboard, scenery, or the entertainment? Finding out what the client wants determines where to suggest they go and why.

A previous first-time cruiser of mine wanted something that offered value for money, for seven nights and with a budget of £1,000pp. They also wanted to experience life on a ship but were unsure how their body would cope with seasickness. I suggested – and they then booked – a seven-night voyage on P&O Cruises’ Iona for £799pp, with free coach travel from Manchester. Since that booking, they have come back to me for more cruise options.

Cruise1st: Lee Ashton, travel agents, travel, selling cruise
Lee Ashton, Cruise1st

How do you ensure loyalty among your clients? 

It is all about giving clients the time they deserve, with the reassurance that I am available to answer queries at most times during the day. I try to get the best package and experience for clients, for what they want to spend.

How do you upsell your cruise clients? 

Upselling is important to many businesses these days with competitive margins across the industry. Sometimes clients need to be shown the benefits of certain upgrades. When a client asks for an inside cabin, instead paint the picture and experience of a balcony cabin, for example.

Suites are ideal for families due to size and storage, so families needn’t struggle for space in a balcony cabin when for a little bit more money they get more space and extra benefits. A lot of agents presume clients don’t want to spend more money, but that’s actually not the case. Clients always start low with the expectation of spending more.

How do you market what you do?

I use social media to showcase deals and share special offers. I also have dates saved in my calendar when special occasions are coming for clients  – birthdays, anniversaries and so on. An email or a call goes a long way. I often keep on top of all cruise line training modules and love watching travel shows. I’ve been to many countries in the world and use my own personal cruise and destination knowledge to find the right holiday. Technology helps paint the picture.

What’s your most effective method of targeting potential cruisers and why?

From my time in retail and a call centre environment, I’ve picked up different techniques. Listening and building a rapport are the keys. I like to get to know the clients to understand what they require.

What do holidaymakers expect of a travel agent in today’s world? 

Demands are still high, even with internet sales booming. Yes, the web tells clients what they want to hear, yet it doesn’t tell the full story. A majority of web pages state similar benefits and entertainment for most cruise lines. However, every line offers something different and all clients are different in their demands. Clients want their dream holiday, not someone else’s, and will always come to agents for personal recommendations and experiences. Sometimes price is not the most important factor.

What’s the number one travel agent must-have? 

Patience. If you take rejection personally, you will never succeed. The travel environment is a sales role that takes time to master and determination to go the extra mile. The cliché that helped me at the beginning of my career was ‘knowledge is power’ – the more you know, the better you will become at selling cruise.

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