It’s finally here. After all the talk, training and preparation, we’ve entered the busiest time of year for cruise bookings. But what is the secret to wave period success?
If you feel like the pressure could be too much – or you’re just looking for a helping hand – we’ve assembled some of the wisest owls in the industry to give us their top tips for wave period success. Read on and leave your top tips for others!
What is the secret to a successful wave period?
Andy Harmer, Director of CLIA UK and Ireland
Remember that you are working in a diverse industry. There is a vast range of cruise lines, cruise ships and destinations to sell. It is worth sometimes thinking outside of what you normally sell because some of your customers (including even the most dedicated cruise customers) will sometimes be excited with the chance to experience something ‘different’.
Take some serious time to consider existing customers. Wave is not just about going after new customers; it is also about making sure that existing customers come back to you, and that is a year-round effort of building relationships with them. Why not send them a personal Happy New Year card or message.
Make sure that you use social media channels
Director, CLIA UK & Ireland
Time to demonstrate your expertise and experience. If you are a member of CLIA – tell them – and if you are accredited through our learning programme tell them that too. It will help convince them that they are booking with people who can give them the best possible advice.
Make sure that you use social media channels not just to remind people that you are ready to talk to them about their needs, but also to show that you are keeping up to date with everything that is new in the industry, and that you are the experts.
Keep up to date with the latest offers and value added deals that are available at this time of year – and do not be afraid to take a bit longer looking for a suitable deal during the sales process. Rather take a few moments longer and find the perfect deal than miss it and lose the customer.
James Cole, Managing director & Co-owner Cruise 118
S is for SMILE when talking to customers whether you are on the phone or speaking in person. The customer is always right and they have so much choice when it comes to choosing an agent. It’s amazing how many dull and boring voices I hear when buying a product.
M is for MARKETING. Without it your business will die. How is your message different from your competitors? Are you creating urgency so customers call now not next week?
Look after your existing customers
Managing director & Co-owner Cruise 118
A is for ASK FOR THE SALE. Don’t just give the customer information and impress them with your knowledge of a product, ask them if they want to book! If they don’t then ask why and get over the hurdles they put in front of you.
R is for REPEAT CUSTOMERS. These days with margins so tight the only way to sustain growth in your profits is to look after your existing customers. Look after them and they will come back to you and recommend you to their friends. Priceless from a marketing perspective.
T is for TRAINING. Always ensure that customer-facing staff are continuously trained. Are they up to speed on the latest destinations and new cruise ships? Are they following your sales processes to ensure they build rapport with the customer? Most people get complacent if they are not reminded of the basics from time to time.
Ian Warren, Cruise consultant at GoCruise
Make sure you carefully read the wave promotions from all cruise lines, and take note of the terms and conditions, to see which cruises and cabin grades qualify and which ones don’t.
Prepare a ‘cheat sheet’ listing the main selling points for each of the different offers from the various cruise lines
Look at your database
Cruise consultant, GoCruise
Choose which deals are best for you to focus your main efforts on. For me this would probably be ‘added value’ such as free ‘drinks packages’, ‘onboard credit’ or ‘parking at Southampton’, as opposed to ‘£x discount per cabin’. A discount of £200 on a cabin might sound good initially but, with fluid pricing in place, there is a good chance that the price you quote changes between preparing your e-shot or advert, and the time the customer calls you back. At least with an added benefit, they should still be available until the end of the promotion period.
Look at your database to see which customers you can target for the various offers available, and then approach them with details, whether it by email, phone or post.
When receiving new enquiries from your website or on the phone, check to see if you could perhaps switch sell to a better deal by utilising a wave promotion.
The Cruise Line
Polly Lyons, Southern sales executive at All Leisure Holidays
Know your products! Make sure the staff are fully up to date with product training prior to the start of wave.
Know your market! Display the right offers in your window to suit the customers in your town. You don’t always need to put cheap, cheap, cheap in the window.
Acknowledge every customer that walks through the door. Don’t ignore them if you are busy, greet them and give them a realistic time to pop back or give them a card.
Try doing an event
Southern sales executive, All Leisure Holidays
Look through your databases for existing customers who may of booked this time last year. Give them a call as early as possible. Wish them Happy New Year and find out their holiday plans for the year!
Try doing an event. If you have never done this before speak to the operators. They are the experts and do these on a regular basis. Remember plenty of planning is key.
How about doing follow ups? Call/Follow up the clients that you did quotes for – sometimes the customers just need that extra little chat to make their minds up and if they have shopped around that extra contact could clinch the deal.
Claire Brighton, Senior commercial manager at Advantage
There is a cruise line out there for everyone so ensure that you and your team are fully trained on all brands that are suitable for your customer base to enable you to select the right brand for the right customer then use the fantastic wave campaigns that are out in the market place to secure sale.
Don’t discount unnecessarily! You are selling yourselves and the service you provide short by discounting when there is no need to. Sell on service not on price!
Maximise every opportunity
Senior commercial manager, Advantage
Use your existing customers. If you have a customer who books with you every year and they haven’t yet been in, find a couple of offers you think they would like and let them know about them. They will appreciate the fact that you know them well enough to individually select offers for them and love that they are important enough for you to contact them directly.
Maximise every opportunity – Shore excursions are a huge part of the cruise experience but make sure you, as agents, earn from selling these, use a company like Cruising Excursions who pay agents commission or for cruise lines that do pay commission on shore excursions you can book direct with them. In addition to shore excursions look at port or airport parking, pre- or post-cruise hotel stays.