Top 5 mistakes to avoid when selling luxury cruises to first-time prospects

When the CDC recently lifted the COVID travel warning for cruises, it gave travelers the green light that it’s really safe now to go on a cruise. Travel counselors are already seeing an increase in bookings, so now is a good time to brush up on your essential skills. When selling to a particular market segment — namely, luxury ocean experiences to first-time prospects — here are five mistakes to avoid.

1. Sell out of your own pocket.
Be careful when automatically placing customers into certain market segment buckets based on first impressions. You might miss important opportunities.

“Never sell out of your own pocket. I’ve had clients who didn’t seem like they had a penny to rub shoulders with, and they buy the biggest suites on the ship. Just because you don’t think of someone in the luxury category doesn’t mean they don’t see themselves as your luxury customer,” said Suanne Adair, ECCS, LCS, DS, PRTE, owner of Adair to Travel, LLC.

2. Assuming you know what type of hosting the customer wants.
You may think you know the style of travel and level of accommodation that a particular customer wants, but you might be quite surprised by digging deeper into their travel desires.

“The first thing I train advisors to do is to question the customer’s preferred accommodations,” explained Annette Nero Stellhorn, VTA, CTIE, ACC, President and Founder, Accent on Travel. “If a guest loved staying at the Hampton Inn, a luxury cruise experience may feel unnecessary. But if their favorite lodging memory was at a Peninsula hotel or a Taj property, then discussing the variety of luxury cruise experience options is appropriate.

3. Not taking the time to fully describe what differentiates luxury ocean voyages from high-end cruises.
Always convey the key differentiators of the luxury ocean experience with the brand you recommend versus sailing on a premium brand, such as space, choice, design, service, immersion and destinations – all leading to incredible value for their vacation investment.

“Selling the style of the ship to explore the destination before discussing the price is a very effective way to introduce new guests to a luxury cruise,” Stellhorn said. “It really is a consultation. Explain the difference between a luxury experience at destination and on the ship and that of a premium product. You must know the brands, explain the products and so talk about price.

And remember to focus on the value proposition. Denise L. Wiggins, Global Executive Advisor/CEO of Denise Wiggins Travel & Health Services, noted that one of the biggest mistakes made by travel advisors is “the inability to differentiate not just cruise style level, but the value proposition. A luxury cruise offers a personalized experience and level of service unlike other cruise categories. Whether it’s ship size, number of guests, luxury cabins, meals, personal excursions, butler service, yacht styling, and more.

Wiggins goes even further: “I take the customer on a visual cruise journey and ask them to imagine the different onboard experiences that would unfold for them, from boarding, to walking in their cabin, to detecting the sights, sounds, smells and general feelings. that overcome them as I share the joys of all that such a beautiful cruise will welcome them. It’s honestly a good experience of five minutes or more. I like the reactions of clients when they hear the excitement, passion and energy in my voice as I ‘walk’ them through an experience they never had, but now desire.

We are three for three on the verge of conveying the value proposition, as Adair relayed its strategy: “When I sell luxury to a first customer, they are generally customers that I have placed in premium cabins before. It’s just a little “push” to get them up. But if these are first-time cruisers to luxury or cruise at all, so I’m selling cruise all-inclusive,” Adair said. “The possibility of having a “one and done” solution, all paid for in advance without “nickel and diming” to do on board. I also talk to my new customers about the differences in the ship, the smaller size of the luxury lines, the quality of the food, the superior service and the general amenities offered by the line. And I tell them that there is no queue to get off and on the ships, unlike the mega-ships.

4. Selling something you haven’t personally experienced.
This one really speaks for itself, and while it’s obvious, not all travel advisors take the time to do it.

“Browse the product and experience it for yourself,” Adair said. “You sell what you know with more knowledge and enthusiasm if you can speak from experience. If you take the luxury lines online courses and have a relationship with your local BDM, they will also work with you to get you on a ship to experience their line. They know you will sell it if you experience it. Building a relationship with your BDM is imperative, as they will be the ones to help you if you run into a problem.

5. Try to sell all brands of cruises.
Two of the travel advisors we spoke to had similar advice for travel advisors who are just starting to sell luxury cruises.

Wiggins said: “Start with a high-level overview of all the luxury cruise brands to familiarize yourself with, then work out the top three based on their customer base and interests to explore further. Request a meeting with their BDM and note that no two brands are the same. They all have accolades that set them apart.

Stellhorn suggested, “Do research and commit to your top three luxury cruise brands. Get certified and build a relationship with their sales team and start marketing. »

We hope we have given you food for thought to increase your bookings of luxury ocean experiences this season. We wish you good luck, because as Adair says, “Commissions with commas are fabulous!”

From the sponsor:
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