HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN YOUR CURRENT JOB AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ROLE?
A: I have worked for Crystal Cruises for a total of seven years and took up the role as head of sales in 2014, attracted to the position by the opportunity to greater influence the promotion of luxury cruising, enhanced by Crystal Cruises’ enviable reputation.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE CRUISE INDUSTRY?
A: The constant innovation and evolution of the cruise industry, which continues to whet the appetite and interest of the experienced cruise agents and new-to-cruise agents alike. This alongside a genuine camaraderie and a willingness for all cruise lines to work together for the greater good of the industry.
HOW IS YOUR COMPANY DIFFERENT TO OTHER CRUISE LINES?
A: Crystal Cruises has earned more ‘World’s Best’ accolades than any other cruise line, hotel, or resort in history. A more recent distinction would be ground-breaking development, with the addition of Crystal Yacht Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Luxury Air and Crystal AirCruises – exciting times.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB OVER THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS?
A: The continued, and growing, popularity of Crystal Serenity, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Esprit cruises, plus the amazing expansion of the company’s luxury portfolio experience, including additions to the Crystal River Cruises fleet and the arrival of the Crystal AirCruises Boeing 777 in the autumn of 2017.
HOW HAS THE CRUISE MARKET CHANGED IN THE LAST 10 YEARS?
A: The building of some ‘game-changing’ ships, of all shapes and sizes, along with the exploration of relatively new source markets – particularly in the Asian marketplace, where cruise lines have realised that it is not ‘one size fits all’ when trying to attract guests from different countries, different regions and different cultures.
WHAT IS THE TARGET MARKET OF YOUR COMPANY?
A: With the creation of a better understanding of the Crystal Cruises value among ‘Premium’ cruise line travel agents and their guests we provide them with greater opportunities to sell up or move up respectively. Other successful areas that we are nurturing are the extended family group and solo traveller because of our choice of facilities and reasonable price points.
HOW MUCH PERCENTAGE OF GROWTH ARE YOU TARGETING FROM UK & IRELAND CUSTOMERS EACH YEAR?
A: Historically somewhere between 12% and 15% but with the introduction of exciting experiences at sea, on river or in the air I would expect to see this rise.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING CRUISE SALES?
A: For Crystal Cruises it is often the lack of availability, particularly on our more popular sailings. Many of our past guests either book future cruises on board (where their booking is passed back to their travel agent) or book early to take advantage of the saving, leaving those guests who book later with limited options. We try to increase awareness among our trade partners and potential guests that an early booking is beneficial.
HOW DOES THE COMPANY WORK WITH THE TRAVEL TRADE?
A: We sell almost exclusively through the trade, providing them with support and advice from our field and office-based sales teams as well as our reservations team. We also offer online training via our recently upgraded site, together with ship visits and familiarisation trips.
WHY SHOULD AGENTS SELL CRUISE RATHER THAN A LAND HOLIDAY?
A: Crystal Cruises offers a greater variety – whether it is the choice of destinations available on a specific sailing, the wining and dining options or the entertainment and enrichment programmes.
TOP THREE SALES TIPS FOR TRAVEL AGENTS SELLING CRUISE
1 – Explore and listen carefully to customer’s needs and wants and then can explain how a cruise exceed those criteria.
2 – Don’t assume that customers are not interested, or cannot afford luxury cruising. Explain the greater value-for-money offering.
3 – Take advantage of the support offered by cruise lines: knowledge, experience and collateral provided, plus training and ship visit opportunities.