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ship visits Cruise
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roduct knowledge is important areas and accommodation, including the
when it comes to selling cruises penthouse suites, followed by lunch in the
but nothing beats showing your Crystal Dining Room. The cruise line charges
prospective clients around the very £25 per client: sales director Sophie Higgins
ship you want to book them on. says some agents pay for their clients as a good-
A tour of a cruise ship can work like magic. will gesture while others use it to incentivise
Once your target audience has seen the product the client and the money is fully refunded to
and experienced the onboard service, it the client if they go on to book a cruise.
becomes much easier for you to seal the deal. Higgins says: “Spring is the perfect time
Many cruise lines work proactively with to send applications into the office. We
agents to host their clients for guided tours – recommend agents make their requests as
and visits and lunches on days when the ships early as possible. Crystal ship visits are always
are docked in UK ports are a secret weapon that extremely popular with our travel agent
is ramping up the conversion rates for all partners because they are the best opportunity
agents involved. to showcase the product to their clients.”
Dawn Jordan, who heads up Bath Travel’s And Loizou adds: “Crystal really makes the
cruise department, says agent-client ship visits most of the opportunity. They are always
are the most valuable thing a cruise line can do willing to provide space as they really see the
“provided they get people onboard who haven’t value in getting clients onboard.”
cruised with them before.”
Jamie Loizou, sales and marketing director at FRED OLSEN CRUISE LINES
Mundy Cruising, has accompanied clients on a Ship visits with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines are
number of ship visits for different lines. “It’s slightly more informal and there’s no charge.
good for Mundy staff, because we get to spend The day begins with a sales presentation, when
time building a relationship with clients, and day guests are offered a glass of champagne,
we can also refresh our product knowledge at but the subsequent tour is self-guided and
the same time.” lunch is buffet style.
He says it can take a while to measure the Port days can accommodate more than 100
benefit of a visit, as many cruisers’ holiday guests – some agents put on coaches and
plans are sewn up more than a year in advance. escort as many as 40 clients to the ship, but the
“It’s a slow burn so you have to be patient,” usual number is five or six guests per agent.
says Loizou. “Bookings don’t always come in Ports offered in 2009 are Newcastle, Leith,
overnight – they might take two years. But Dover, Southampton and Portsmouth. Fred
cruise clients tend to be loyal and will stay with Olsen usually releases details of its ship visits Advice on ship
you, so the value can last a lifetime.” programme in the autumn and all slots this
visits for agents:
Some clients certainly seem to think it’s a year are already fully booked. But with an
worthwhile activity, judging by these remarks average of 12 days of ship visits in Dover ■ These events are not for the
from one Mundy customer: “We’d been told every year there are plenty of opportunities ‘free lunch’ brigade
about Crystal by friends but were unsure about for agents to get involved in 2010. Some lines charge and others don’t, but
booking. The day was excellent and incredibly Agency sales supervisor Sarah Haskell says: money will usually be refunded if a
informative. We were guided round by a “Our ship visits are the perfect opportunity booking is made.
member of the Crystal team and accompanied for agents to bring along customers who ■ Choose your client guests carefully
by our Mundy consultant. They explained every UK port dates can be rare and where
aspect of the ship, we saw a range of accommo- availability is scarce, you may be put on
dation options and had a delightful lunch. It a waiting list. But lines are generally
brought the product to life and we decided keen to accommodate agents with
there and then Crystal was definitely for us.” clients who are serious about cruising.
■ Client ship visits are an invaluable
CRYSTAL CRUISES selling tool
Every year Crystal Cruises operates a schedule By putting on welcome speeches, tours,
of ship visits. Most visits take place in Dover lunches and drinks, cruise lines pull out
but on occasion Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, all the stops and demonstrate the kind
Liverpool and Guernsey are offered too. Agents of service your client can expect as a
can invite eight to 10 clients each and the paying customer.
format of the day includes a tour of public Fred Olsen port days can accommodate up to 100 guests
TTG Knowledge – March 2009
23
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