When is a cruise booking truly complete? According to cruise industry experts, if you think it’s when your client has placed their deposit, you would be wrong. Research from cruise lines tell us that your client isn’t fully invested until you’ve booked them on the other half of cruising — namely shore excursions and tours.
Penalty phases are not an agent’s best friend, which means a simple cruise booking is often not enough to generate the security an agent wants to feel after they’ve made the sale. But the good news is that studies have shown that clients are less likely to cancel a cruise booking during the penalty phase if they have already booked their shore excursions and pre- and post- tours.
As one cruise executive noted, “Instead of telling their friends they have booked a Mediterranean cruise, clients who have chosen their excursions talk about how they are going to see the Acropolis or other bucket list sights. Booking the excursions and pre- and post- add-ons cements the vacation for them. It makes it more real.”
Here are some other reasons why tours and shore excursions are every bit as important to the sale as the cruise itself:
Your job is to make curating their cruise vacation easy
Whether you think so or not, the majority of first-time cruisers and many repeaters do not want to pick their own shore excursions and tours. Sure, they want some say, but then they want their agent to funnel their likes and dislikes and narrow down the options for them.
It can be daunting to board a new ship and make choices about unfamiliar destinations. This is where you and the cruise line can work together. If the shore excursions are equally overwhelming to you, most lines have an added layer of service representatives who help direct your clients to the options they are most interested in. This goes beyond any online information and brochures you can give them and can make all the difference when sealing the deal.
It saves precious time and money
Vacation time is irreplaceable time and money. No one wants to worry about details and specifics of excursions and tours once they are in vacation mode. They want these details finalized before they leave home, so all they have to do is show up and be entertained.
What’s more, booking excursions and tours early guarantees that the price will remain the same and secures their space on popular programs. For example, the most exclusive and most popular tours and excursions typically have the smallest inventory of tickets available because up-close-and-personal outings such as helicopter rides, visits to temples, small yacht cruises and culinary tours lend themselves to smaller groups. In other words, make sure your client knows that the early bird gets the worm.
They bring the cruise alive
If your client is going on a cruise and they do not intend to do a pre- or post- tour or shore excursion, then you might as well be sending them on a transatlantic sailing. While the beauty of a ship is central to the experience, the experiences off the ship by far enrich and complete it – and it’s your job to remind them of that.
Be sure to tell your clients what they are missing if they do not immerse themselves in the culture, adventure, food and scenery afforded to those who choose to explore the destinations on a cruise itinerary.
“The famous ‘bucket list’ clients are more inclined to tick off experiences which, of course, are more than just getting to a place, but immersing themselves in the culture or highlight of a destination. You would never want to go to Paris and only drive by the Louvre … how could you ever then say you saw the Mona Lisa?” said Loretta Darcy, an agent with over 30 years of experience at Tully Luxury Travel in Ontario, Canada. “Pre-arranging shore excursions increases the excitement of their future cruise vacation as they have a better vision of what they will be experiencing.”
Breeds repeat business and referrals
Particularly in the case of pre- and post- tours, these cruise options can often be the window to further exploration, and therefore, additional sales for agents. Ensuring your clients are exposed (even if just minimally) to the destinations on their cruise itineraries, often creates a thirst for more. Giving your clients a taste of a destination by using the expertise of the cruise lines’ own tour operators and destination experts is essential to keeping them, as well as enticing them to return for further land or cruise exploration.
The more your client can get out of an experience, the more they will thank you, and the more likely they will book again. And don’t forget about the friends they will tell, aka referrals. “Our clients are our future, and I know that when I provide them with an outstanding travel experience, they will continue to book their travel with us,” said Darcy.
To know your client’s tours and shore excursions have been taken care of by you is to know their cruise booking is complete – and so is your sale!
FROM THE SPONSOR:
No one combines the on-ship and immersive on-shore experience in ultra-luxury style like Seabourn. Your clients can enhance, extend and customize their voyage with an array of enticing options.
In select ports-of-call, optional Ventures by Seabourn™ excursions, guided by our skilled expedition team, invites guests to explore destinations on our fleet of Zodiacs or by paddling in double sea kayaks.
Our shore excursions visit more than 170 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites globally. For clients that want to explore iconic sites that aren’t accessible on single-day excursions from the ship, we offer superbly-crafted, fully escorted pre- or post-cruise Seabourn Journeys on select sailings. (Bonus for you – Seabourn Journeys earn commission).
While the world’s finest ultra-luxury resort at sea is central to a guest’s experience, the on-shore experiences enrich and complete it. Show your clients extraordinary worlds, and in return, they show you extraordinary loyalty.