The Travel Market Report accompanied the New Orleans-based Conexion fair last month and gathered information and insights from various representatives of the luxury cruise market on the future of the market, changes in the target audience, industry-critical attitudes, and other to assist travel agents when entering this field. Check below the conclusions:
Luxury travelers are getting younger and more active, revealed a panel of cruise executives at the conference. What’s more, the profiles now include not only experienced cruisers, but also those who have never sailed before. Whether your clients are young or experienced, you can enhance the guest experience and your own profit margin by suggesting a luxury upgrade to the right buyers at the right time in their lives.
“The average age is definitely falling,” said Regent Seven Seas Cruises senior vice president of sales, Shawn Tubman. “As we get more premium customers looking for luxury brands, we get more families, and where they used to be couples, now they’re the singles, once people try a luxury brand, they want to come back.”
Luxury customers have traditionally come “from the suites and balconies of other lines or from river cruises,” Tubman said. “They’ve been traveling for years, they love the premium cruise, and they talk to each other about how to raise the level of the ride, and we’ve got some customers from the all-inclusive resorts lately, and for the first time we’re getting some new cruise customers. making it so important that there is a growth in the luxury market never seen before, “he added.
PREDICTION TO LUXURY
To identify customers who are ready for luxury and ultra-luxury, ask what they have done in the past, what they like to do on vacation, and especially, what they did not like about past trips. “People will tell you everything you need to know to sell, you just have to listen,” Tubman said. Next one should point out the value proposition by showing customers everything that is included in an ultra-luxury cruise so that they can see that they are already spending almost the same amount for something even more exclusive.
“Look for customers who are already booking balconies and suites, ultra luxurious hotels like St. Regis and Four Seasons, or premium guided tours such as Insight Gold,” suggested Tubman and co-star Cissy Swearingen of Tauck. Show them the extras that ultra-luxury lines include in price, spa treatments, business class air, walk-in closets.
Mention that they will have access to an executive club and a butler service, so they do not have to worry about anything. “These are things that can really close a sale for active people, trying to get away from their hectic lives,” said Terry Smythe of Journese.
TELL A STORY
Then point out special offers of experiences on luxury cruises, using storytelling to entice customers and allow them to picture themselves in destination. Say something like, “Everyone dives with stingrays, but on our journey, they will only have nine people as far as their sight can reach. There is no one else out there but you and the stingrays,” Tubman said.
Another great selling point are the unique destinations to which luxury lines sail. The high-class cruisers are “definitely more experienced, know the market offers and are looking for something new and exciting, something to show on Instagram and Facebook. A great opportunity for agents is the sale of cruises with several destinations, which require more days at sea, such as adding Fiji, for example, if they are considering a cruise to Australia, “said the expert.
Paul Gauguin cruises are also seeing a lot of interest in unique destinations, and claim to be a strategy to keep guests sailing longer. “They want an experience rich in culture and uniqueness, they do not want to stay just one night, they want experiences while they’re there,” said Shipmaster Sales Director Sharla Smith.
“If you hear the word personalized, or the customer wants everything to be taken care of, with many extras, or if it’s a special occasion like honeymoon, it’s time to suggest an increment and move on to unique options,” advises Smith. She adds, “Do not be intimidated, do it with confidence. More than ever, customers want to make their holiday a memory that will last a lifetime.”
WHERE TO FIND THIS CUSTOMER
Smith noted that the first step is to find customers who can afford an ultra-luxurious trip. Get out in the community and “go where luxury clients go, such as golf communities, gated communities, yacht clubs … And do not forget philanthropic institutions, charities and the like,” she said. Smith gave a personal example in which, in her first year in the industry, she was able to sell four luxury trips and a couple of cruise tickets around the world thanks to the contacts she made while following a known volunteer action from a symphony orchestra .
Royal Caribbean senior vice president Vicki Freed added his thoughts on what the panel had explained. “Travel agents should start with good, qualifying questions so they know what the customer is thinking,” she said. “Whether it’s the 40th anniversary or a retirement trip, they may want a larger suite than they’ve booked in the past, an extra, special experience. So this may be the perfect time to introduce them to the luxury experience.”
Travel agent Danny Dembo, president of Luxury Travel Consulting in London, Ontario and Canada, agreed that there are two trends in luxury space: more intergenerational travel and a downward trend in terms of age. “Millennials are taking the luxury cruises and the cruise lines are adapting at the top,” he said.
A 28-year-old travel agent present at the meeting (that is, a millennial himself) stated that his clients are also moving, albeit more modestly, “from an outside room to a junior suite, or choose Haven rather than a Regent Seven Seas, “he said. The trader stated that his clients “are moving not from one cruise line to another but within a cruise line to more sophisticated areas.”