Star Clippers is launching a new campaign next month that shines a light on different destinations with a focus on the trade.
The luxury tall-ship cruise line is teaming up with tourist boards, hotel partners, regional airports and airlines to put the emphasis back into their heavenly locations, with a different destination focus each quarter.
During the campaign, agents can take advantage of trade events, offers, promotions and fam trip opportunities.
Here, the line’s head of trade sales, Danielle Bates, talks us through 10 ways to get people on board
1. Gen-up on hidden gem St Maarten
From April to June, the three-vessel cruise line will spotlight the Caribbean island of St Maarten as part of their trade campaign.
The destination focus will involve a week-long UK roadshow, with the cruise line’s sales team and members of the tourist board hitting the road to collaborate on agent training sessions and events. Uniquely, it will be the first time that representatives from the tourist board have ever promoted the island in the UK.
Evening events for agents will be taking place on Monday, April 4 at Hotel Indigo, Birmingham; Wednesday, April 6 at Charlotte Street Hotel, London; and Thursday, April 7 at Chester Racecourse. During the roadshow, there will be a chance to win a space on a fam trip to St Maarten.
Danielle says: “We have sailed out of St Maarten every Saturday from November to March for the past 30 years. St Maarten has a unique split personality: it’s half French and half Dutch so is extremely cosmopolitan. There are lots of boutiques, hotels and restaurants and there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy culinary experiences and water sports.”
Flights to St Maarten are via Amsterdam or Paris, and Star Clippers are keen to target agents near regional airports, such as Birmingham and Manchester.
“We want to educate the trade that if you’re flying from a regional airport, the journey to St Maarten is the same as if you were flying via London,” says Danielle.
Future destination focuses will include Barbados and Italy, with agent events including pizza-making sessions.
2. Target customers seeking bucket-list trips
Ideal for clients seeking a bucket-list adventure is the line’s new Costa Rican and Panama itinerary on board the four-masted barquentine, Star Clipper, departing in March 2023.
Danielle says: “We are returning to Costa Rica for the first time in a decade. Costa Rica is high on people’s bucket list. It’s very big on sustainability and is just magical.”
3. Stress the sustainability credentials
“Our ethos is to try to sail under wind power. When the winds are kind to us, we won’t use fuel. That’s unique in the cruise industry; we use a lot less energy than bigger cruise lines,” says Danielle.
4. Star Clippers doesn’t appeal to the typical cruise customer
According to Danielle “it appeals to people who enjoy river cruise holidays, safari and rail holidays, and sailing enthusiasts, such as those who are ex-Navy or who own their own boat. It also attracts sun seekers and destination lovers. We have a real mix of clientele”.
She recommends “thinking outside the box” and perhaps targeting a local yacht club for clients.
And although there are no minimum age requirements and the ships are not adults only, it is “rare to see children on board” as there is no kid’s club or facilities for children.
“We have lots of couples celebrating special occasions or taking bucket-list sailings,” says Danielle. “Luckily for us, they love it and we have huge repeat passenger ratios. The trade love that about us.”
5. Life on board is a key selling point
Anyone with a passion for sailing can “help raise the sails” or even “climb up the rigging to the Crow’s Nest – a real thrill seeker’s experience”, explains Danielle. As the ship departs each port of call, classical music is played while guests sip champagne.
There are complimentary watersports, including kayaking, wakeboarding, small sailing boats, waterskiing and snorkelling.
Every cruise is full-board with buffet breakfasts and lunches, and à la carte dinners with silver service, although there is no strict dress code. Long-haul sailings include a beach barbecue at least once a week. And night owls can tuck into a midnight snack, such as cheese and biscuits, spring rolls or fish fingers.
6. The ships provide the perfect setting for romance
Star Clippers offer complimentary blessings with the captain conducting the ceremony on the bridge, often at sunset, with guests gathering round to watch.
All anyone who wants to have a blessing needs to do is “bring along their marriage certificate”.
7. Small is beautiful
Star Clippers has just three ships: Star Flyer and Star Clipper can hold 166 passengers, while flagship Royal Clipper has a capacity for 227 guests.
“We’re small and boutique, and that’s never been more fashionable than now. Guests never have to contend with long queues and the service onboard is incredibly personable. Our ships are so small that we’re able to access more off-the-beaten-track destinations,” explains Danielle.
8. Go big on the window display
Danielle suggests inviting the line’s sales team to your branch to carry out an instore presentation on the brand.
“Even if we get six to eight people to come along, we’ll get two bookings from that,” she says.
To drive bookings, Danielle also suggests filling shop windows with posters showcasing the ships.
“It’s an incredibly visual product, so fill your windows with posters, or be inventive by making a sailing ship out of pillow cases to help bring the product to life.”
9. Be social
Join Star Clippers’ regional agent Facebook pages where you’ll find loads of shareable content. Look out for Ali Star Clippers agents north, Scotland & Northern Ireland and Nic Star Clippers UK South West region.
10. It’s not as expensive as you might think
A three-night Venice mini-cruise on board the flagship Royal Clipper in July costs from £769 per person, while an Amalfi Coast voyage costs from £1630 per person in September.
“For something so unique and bucket-list, the price often surprises people. It’s very competitive,” says Danielle.