By Phil and Doris Davidoff, CTCs, CTIEs, MCCs
It is exceedingly important to make sure that the cruise you are selling to a client or prospect will provide the activities (or lack of them) and lifestyle that your client is looking for. One of the great things about today’s cruise industry is that there is a cruise for everyone. Putting the wrong person on the wrong ship is, however, a disaster in the making.
Cruise ships range in size from Sea Dream and Windstar vessels carrying fewer than 150 passengers to Royal Caribbean’s mammoth Freedom of the Seas, which will soon carry more than 3,500 passengers, and in style from the bare-bones of EasyCruise (more of a ferry than a cruise ship) to the ultra- luxury of Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn and Silversea.
A recent column by Arthur Frommer in the travel section of our Sunday newspaper provides a very well-balanced view of the different lifestyles available on today’s ships. “On a cruise ship with 2,000+ passengers, I stand in line for meals, tours, lectures, shows. This is not cruising as I like it. Crowds, crowds everywhere,” he writes. He adds that lines move quickly, but “it is not a quiet, contemplative week at sea.”
Frommer does write: “Let me, in all fairness, compliment the cruise lines on providing a considerable degree of comfort – indeed, luxury – at an extremely reasonable price.” He states that lower cost cruises do offer real value. “But, to thoughtful Americans, it provides no real vacation.”
Most travel agents who sell cruises are aware of the different activities and lifestyles available on different cruise lines. Information provided by cruise lines and CLIA along with the many seminars offered to travel agents by the cruise lines and at events such as Travel Trade’s Cruise-a-thon and CLIA’s cruise3sixty provide excellent product knowledge learning opportunities.
The area where travel agents all too often fall down is to truly understand the lifestyle and activity desires of their clients. Does your client want the high-energy activity of contemporary mega-ships, low-key relaxation of smaller, more refined cruises – or something in between?
Another failure is to assume that your client will like the lifestyle you prefer. Just because you love the lavish, Las Vegas-type shows presented on mega-ships, does not mean your client will, or vice- versa.
Little things can also be important. We remember hearing two women on a contemporary cruise ship complaining about the casual dress worn by most passengers. Clearly, they would have been more comfortable on a premium or luxury ship. They probably chose (or accepted a travel agent’s recommendation) of a contemporary ship because it was less expensive.
If you know your clients and your cruise lines and ships and match them properly, you will have a profitable sale and satisfied clients who value your recommendations and will return to you for future vacations.