The importance of loyalty schemes

When running a business, it’s a known fact that it’s more expensive and challenging to attract first-time customers than to keep existing ones happy and engaged. So, what are the key factors in securing customer loyalty and retention? And how can you re-establish relationships so that customers come back to you time and time again? 

Building customer loyalty is a sure-fire way to create growth for your travel business. Establishing a close relationship with your customer base is key in building loyalty. Providing excellent customer service is vital, the more important a customer feels, the more of a connection they will feel to your business, both in terms of rebooking and spreading positive word of mouth. But what else? 

Reward schemes are important. A study by Nielsen found that 60 per cent of consumers considered a loyalty programme as an important factor in their buying decisions. So, why should you as travel agents support cruise lines’ reward schemes for your customers? 

The answer is clear: loyalty schemes provide a reason for your customers to return. Such schemes offer additional benefits and at the same time give them a feeling of gratitude. We are all customers, and we all like to feel valued. 

Cruise line reward scheme benefits vary. From cabin upgrades, complimentary gifts and speciality dining, to late disembarkation, discounts and more. Many guests start receiving additional discounts following their first cruise. At Avalon Waterways, guests can receive up to an additional £100 off per person. 

Signing up to loyalty clubs is often automatic – some customers may not even know that they are part of a scheme. Loyalty discounts and benefits are also often combinable with other promotions already in place, but customers may simply not be aware of what is available to them. 

Top tips:

Next time a cruise line has a booking promotion, review your past customer list and send them an e-shot to tell them about the promotion, but also remind them of the additional discount/benefits they can receive by booking with you as a repeat guest. 

Check your website. Does it remind customers that they can benefit from cruise-line loyalty schemes when booking with you? 

Do your marketing materials ask customers to tell you if they are part of a cruise-line loyalty scheme?

When booking a cruise holiday, always check if the customer has booked with that operator before, they may be entitled to a loyalty benefit which they weren’t even aware of, and advise the cruise line when booking. 

I believe agents should support loyalty schemes as they help to convert sales. A customer who has been on a cruise is likely to re-book, and if you remind them of the discount or benefits that they will receive by rebooking with you, it becomes an easier sale to close.

It is also a simple way of adding value to the relationship, providing greater customer service. Through building loyalty with you as the agent, rewards can be reaped for all. Happy selling! 

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