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A few years ago, I ran into an elderly, well-off, fashionable woman who was an old friend of the family. As we were chatting, she told me how amazed she was that people “my age” looked down on her when she wore her fur coat. She was baffled as to how this ultimate sign of luxury and class to her generation had become an object of scorn and ridicule to younger generations.
Clearly, tastes change and each generation decides what they value. As a travel agent, when you are working with a younger cruise client — and sometimes asking them to spend about the same amount a previous generation might have used on a fur coat — it’s important to understand what it is they are actually looking for. And, as you will read in this issue’s cover story, “The Next Generation Sets Sail” (page 10), there really are generational preferences when it comes to cruising.
For instance, MissTravel.com, which calls itself “the world’s only travel-dating website,” recently conducted a survey of 13,500 U.S. members and found that more than 80 percent of travelers under the age of 34 would still take a cruise despite the well-reported problems onboard the Carnival Triumph. However, only 43 percent of travelers ages 34 to 46 said they would take a cruise now.
“My young clients don’t care too much about the ship,” Daniela Harrison, a travel agent in Flagstaff, Ariz., wrote on TravelAge West’s Facebook page. “They care about the itineraries and things to do in port. They also care about their fellow travelers on the ship and, of course, cost.”
Travel agent Randi Weiner said she found it pretty simple.
“Cost, activities and entertainment are some of the top things [younger cruisers] value,” she wrote on our fan page.
In other words, the fact that a ship has a luxury pedigree might be less important to the next generation of travelers than if the cruise goes to an exotic port, has interesting excursions or if the ship features a restaurant by the hottest celebrity chef. These are all factors that need to be considered when working with young clients. Clearly, agents need to keep up with the times — you don’t want to be left with only a closet full of fur coats.