The guide to end-to-end selling
If there was one way for travel agents to make more commission, it is on ensuring repeat business. But just how many of us are making those repeat bookings?
We asked Fay McCormack, UK general manager of AmaWaterways & Star Clippers to give us her top tips on increasing those all important sales by splitting her advice between getting that booking – and then being pro-active in the aftermath.
Read her top end-to-end selling tips below if you’d like to increase your sales and let us know how you get on.
1. Know your client
The most important tip for anyone selling cruising is to `know your client’. That means, gain an understanding of what their personal likes and dislikes are. There are cruises for all types of people and the agents’ biggest challenge is finding the right cruise line and then the right ship for the client.
2. Keep informed
Product knowledge is vital, there are a lot of ships out there, and a lot of cruise lines and a lot of choice. To give your clients the best service, you need to keep informed. Check out cruise websites and forums for news, sign up to cruise lines’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, read the trade press and take up opportunities for product training from the cruise lines. The information is there – find it!
Up-sell, not just so that your agency earns a bigger commission but also so that you give your clients the best service and the widest choice. Offer them the chance to upgrade to a suite, or a balcony cabin, the price differences are often fairly marginal. With non-inclusive lines, there are often drinks and excursion packages, so make sure you know about them. Don’t compromise; they won’t thank you for it.
4. Get out the atlas
It might sound obvious, but don’t try to sell a route if you don’t know where it is. Get the atlas out or check out itineraries on Google Earth or Google Maps. Know your Baltics from your Balkans, your Tropics from your transatlantics. Your product knowledge needs to impress to gain the client’s confidence in you.
Your client was important enough to you before they cruised, they need to remain important afterwards too
UK general manager of AmaWaterways & Star Clippers
5. It’s not all ocean cruising
Many new and experienced cruisers are discovering river cruising, one of the fastest growth areas in holiday sales. If you’re not selling river cruising you are potentially missing out on this big market. Get hold of some of the very good river cruise guides that are now published, find out who the key operators are, the itineraries they offer and the regions they cover.
1. Welcome home
Your client was important enough to you before they cruised, they need to remain important afterwards too because a large percentage of cruise clients will book time and time again. To make your life even easier, they will often book with the same cruise line. Star Clippers, for example, has over 60% repeat bookings. So keep in touch, welcome them back, and then re-sell.
2. Make an event of it
Consider holding an agency event at your premises and invite your past-cruisers along to it. They’ll appreciate you providing information about different types of cruising and if you get in touch with some of the lines, you’ll probably find they do much of the work for you – and bring the wine too!
3. Don’t be complacent
You sold a cruise, then get on and sell another and another. Cruising is a very strong market and if you don’t sell then the agency in the next street will do. Keep cruising at the forefront when you meet clients, it’s a very good value holiday considering all the add-in value, make sure your clients know this.
4. Go to industry events
There are lots of trade and consumer shows at which you can meet the cruise lines. Make a day of it and go along to one of them – it might be your weekend or your day off, but your career will all be the better for it, you’re bound to enjoy it and your sales will benefit too.
5. Enjoy what you do
You’re working in one of the best possible industries, not just in travel. It’s fun, it’s exciting, there are always innovations, new ships, new attractions, new ways to enjoy a river or ocean sailing. Smile and enjoy each day, it’ll stand you in good stead when the next customer walks through the door!