Traditional cruising is not expedition cruising. This is true. But have you considered that your traditional cruisers could potentially become expedition cruisers if only given the opportunity? So often travel advisors limit their clients into the categories of travel they currently enjoy, literally and figuratively “missing the boat” on exploring new types of travel with their existing customers that could potentially be a travel experience homerun.
Taking the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach” is a safe strategy when you’re marketing to your existing clientele, sending them the latest and greatest traditional cruise itineraries they have become accustomed to, to spark further interest. But what about opening up a whole new window of opportunity in cruising that they otherwise wouldn’t have even dreamed about?
“I offer expedition cruising to almost all of my able-bodied clients. Most of my clients are very seasoned cruisers, so they have been to most every place a traditional cruiser goes. But expedition cruising unveils so many new places for them and they are typically very enthusiastic about it,” said Stefan Bisciglia, of Specialty Cruise & Villas, a Virtuoso agency based in Gig Harbor, Washington.
No Slow Down Ahead for Expedition Cruising
Expedition cruising is exploding, according to industry experts, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. A number of new vessels are coming online over the next few years and research shows these travelers are willing to pay a premium for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
“Expedition cruising engages you from the moment you step aboard. It challenges and fulfills you. It takes you to places few others have tread. While ocean cruising is relaxing, entertaining and educational, it rarely achieves the depth of experience provided by expedition cruising,” said Ange Wallace of Wallace Pierson Travel in Fernandina Beach, Florida
For travel agents who specialize in expedition cruising, research is key to engaging new clients. “Chances are you haven’t been to most of the places on these itineraries, so you need to learn why anyone would want to go. The cruise lines are a great resource for this information and are more than willing to educate you,” points out Bisciglia.
For Wallace, client events are her best marketing tool for expedition cruising. “The videos and first-person stories about the experiences are more exciting when shared face-to-face. The presenters from the expedition companies are well-traveled, passionate and inspiring.
Conveying the uniqueness of expedition cruising is how Ngaire Keene of Keene Travel in Frisco, Texas, has succeeded in selling this type of travel for the past 18 years. Keene sets it apart from traditional cruising by inviting her clients to see the world in what she calls “an up-close-and-personal way.” While she tends to focus on nature-oriented and adventure-minded travelers, she reiterates the message that her clientele is also diverse, from the very active to those who are not so active, but are seeking monumental experiences.
“Standing in the middle of thousands of penguins or being close to a polar bear from a Zodiac is truly life-changing. The scenery is another aspect where smaller ships and Zodiacs can get closer to glaciers and massive icebergs, which is awe-inspiring,” said Keene, who emphasizes to clients that the ships are smaller (typically around 200 people) and unlike traditional cruising, the atmosphere is very informal. “It’s a relaxed environment and a very down-to-earth experience, with no dressing up. The expedition team members are all experts in their fields and share so much information that is on a different level than what a normal lecturer might give on a traditional ship.
Experiencing the product is another avenue to sales, said Keene. “I know when I am talking to my clients, my genuine excitement of what this type of trip offers is what makes people want the same experiences. We take a lot of pictures [when we go on expedition cruises] because they are worth a thousand words. I also have extremely detailed information on my website, from what to wear riding the Zodiacs to clear accounts of the size of cabins, the food and service. Experiencing the product means understanding it so you can share accurate information on the facilities of the ship, and that is very important.
FROM THE SPONSOR: There’s no need to identify as one style of adventurer with Silversea Expeditions. Our global cruises deliver the best of the world, allowing your clients to explore every thrilling and humbling aspect of discovery. Our fleet of four purpose-built ships sails to over 590 destinations across 7 continents, with carefully curated complimentary shore excursions plus specialty themed culinary and wellness expeditions. Our Expedition Team is comprised of professionals of the highest caliber, hand-picked for their expertise in a wide range of fields. Through briefings, onboard lectures, Zodiac cruises and guided hikes, they will bring to life everything your clients encounter. Equally gratifying is the experience onboard our intimate, luxury ships. With the best crew-to-guest ratio in expedition cruising, personalized service is guaranteed. Enjoy butler service in every suite, epicurean cuisine, and the value of a cruise fare that includes nearly all discretionary onboard expenses. This is about letting your clients experience adventure in the most immersive way imaginable in the comforts of luxury. #ThisIsSilversea