Claire Brighton, senior commercial manager for Advantage Travel Partnership discusses the importance of getting the most out of ship visits.
Over the last few months we have seen big ship launches from the likes of P&O and Royal Caribbean to the smaller launches such as Uniworld and between them all they have managed to get thousands of agents on board.
There have also been other on board events from lines such as AMAWaterways/APT and Scenic that hundreds of agents were invited to attend.
Each one of these launches or events were very different and I was lucky enough to attend some of these and on speaking to both Advantage members and other agents it was clear how much these events had benefitted them.
We are all very aware that no matter how great the training programmes are there is no substitute for actually experiencing the product. With all the different cruise options that are now available and within these sectors all the innovations that are available, it is even more key that agents are able to see and experience these products.
In general, cruise lines are great at offering good numbers of ship visit places, particularly those who base their ships from the UK and aim to make these as regional as possible. I recently received ship visit places for our members from at least five different lines but are agents really making the most of these opportunities?
The ship visits are not just a ‘free lunch’, in advance of the visit it is key to either discuss with the member of staff that is attending or set a plan for yourself of what your business needs to gain from the visit, looking to include gaining content to use in social media (take lots of pictures) and being able to come back to your business and train other members of the team that were unable to attend themselves meaning the whole team can sell confidently and increase your sales.
In addition to this, we are in a very fortunate position to be offered fam trip places by some of our cruise line partners and I know there are many others that benefit from these opportunities.
I fully appreciate that it is difficult for some agents to support these due to either funding or more often, staffing levels but I would encourage all agents to think twice before turning one of these fantastic opportunities down as they really are the best way of helping your staff understand the products fully and returning to the business with real knowledge about the ship, the staff and the service they received.
So please don’t think of this as ‘wasted time’ out of the office but as an amazing opportunity to get so much more for your business.