Lynn Narraway, managing director of Holland America Line and Seabourn in the UK, writes for Cruise Adviser about how travel agents can attract more luxury business.
The word ‘luxury’ may mean something different to everyone – but the type of clients we’re talking about here are those who expect that the higher price they pay will provide them with a much more personal, pampering level of service, including a concierge service from their travel agent from start to finish.
Many agents are already successfully selling luxury cruises; however, for those of you interested in growing this part of your business, the following may help you get started.
Within the cruise industry we tend to classify luxury as being the top suites on larger and premium ships and those smaller ocean and river vessels that offer an all-suite and all-inclusive experience.
The higher ticket price brings with it more inclusivity and luxury cruises will usually include very high quality accommodation and standards of service, beverages (including wine and spirits) and all service charges. Value (or relative worth) is still very important and as an agent you must be able to put yourself in their shoes and view the value from your clients’ perspective
To state the obvious, the revenue to you is going to be higher on a luxury cruise. But so is the client satisfaction, which means greater likelihood of loyalty. Your luxury clients should come back to you if they have enjoyed their cruise! Especially if you have invested your time in getting to know them, for example, by researching their travel preferences and bucket-list destinations.
So how can you attract more luxury business? Firstly make sure you complete the excellent training programmes available from the luxury cruise lines – so you have credibility! Your knowledge will be your greatest asset!
Become a member of Clia – which gives you access to excellent networking events, e-shots and news, online training and webinars. Make the most of Clia cruise week (September 19-27) and the extra focus on cruise this will bring.
Look at your database and segment according to client interests and spend; make sure you send only information you think your luxury clients might be interested in; and use your insider knowledge to recommend new experiences they can try.
Reach out to your local community – potential luxury clients may be members of an exclusive golf or sports club, a choral or arts group. They may be philanthropists and support a high-profile charity. And, very importantly, get your regular clients to recommend you via social media – word of mouth really is key in this game!
Luxury cruise is a market segment with benefits that agents should really pursue. It’s also a growing market – with least five luxury options for your clients to consider
These brands are continually building new ships, enhancing the onboard experience and offering exotic new destinations and unusual ports of call – giving your luxury clients more choices every year.
For example, Seabourn is launching a brand new class of ship in December 2016, when the stunning Seabourn Encore will join the fleet boasting 100 per cent veranda suite accommodation, while on board Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam (arriving April 2016), 68 per cent of the accommodation will feature a private balcony.
I am so proud to head these two amazing brands in the UK, both of which retain very loyal clients as well as attracting new to cruise. I hope that we can help you sell more luxury cruise!
- Managing director of Holland America Line and Seabourn in the UK, Lynn Narraway also chairs the Clia executive committee and is committed to growing the cruise industry by helping agent partners to attract new-to-cruise guests, and increase their own cruise business