Please visit our Guides & Brochures page to browse a full version of our Luxury Cruising supplement.
To identify potential prospects, keep in mind that most luxury cruisers have worked their way up the ladder through contemporary and premium cruise lines. That is to say they are people who already cruise. Executives at Crystal Cruises, for example, say about 70 percent of their guests have sailed prior cruises on contemporary and premium lines. So it stands to reason to look to your client base of cruisers when looking for luxury prospects. But you can also look beyond cruisers at the broader travel market.
How do you qualify those prospects as luxury cruisers? Ask, listen and speak up, says Bob Sharak, CLIA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Here are Sharak’s pointers for selling up.
Ask your clients questions and qualify them for vacation options. Where have you traveled in the past that you really enjoyed? Is the answer a drive trip to a cabin in the woods, or did the man in the T-shirt and shorts in front of you indicate that he loved his last vacation at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali? Find out if they’ve ever “splurged’ on a vacation and identify what type of vacation segments that includes.
If the prospect indicates that he or she typically vacations at luxury resorts in far-flung destinations, direct your efforts in that regard. But remember luxury is in the mind of the beholder. Luxury can be considered an outside cabin, a balcony or a suite on a contemporary cruise product.
Don’t be shy! Introduce, offer and upsell an upgraded experience at every opportunity. If the request is an outside cabin, tout the advantages of a balcony or a suite versus the marginal cost
differential. If the client is interested in a suite,
introduce a luxury brand. As a salesperson you always have room to negotiate. You have nothing to lose other than a potential commission with commas. Sharak’s suggestions apply to both existing prospects and to qualifying new prospects. So where do agents fish for new prospects?
“Our new business comes from Internet inquiries, be it by telephone or e-mail, but the contact is initiated from the Internet,” said Eric Maryanov, whose Los Angeles-based All-Travel.com focuses on upscale cruises. “We use the Internet as an interactive Yellow Pages to create the relationship.”
Once that relationship is created, even though the client may have found All-Travel.com only by asking a price question, it’s important that his agents play the role of true travel consultant. And that involves getting personal.
“It’s a lot more than just selling the cabin on the ship,” he said. “Booking the cabin is one step, but after we get the cabin booked, we tell the client we really need to look at alternative dining reservations and shore excursions of a personal nature.”
These are things, particularly if you’re dealing with a new client, that become a part of the selling — to bring to the client’s awareness of all of these other things that we can do for them, Maryanov said.
“They realize ‘Wait a minute, when I called XYZ Agency, they quoted me a price and a discount. You’re talking to me about other things to consider as part of the overall trip-planning experience,” said Maryanov.
Crystal’s top-producer, Mary Jean Tully of Cruise Professionals in Mississauga, Ontario, said it’s important to understand luxury in order to upsell.
“Be passionate, but most importantly, share it with your employees,” Tully said. “There isn’t an employee in my company who hasn’t sailed Crystal, Regent, Silversea or Seabourn. They have to know the differences between the companies, and they have to feel important ... You have to understand luxury, even if you can’t afford it yourself.”