Written By: Jackie Friedman, President – Nexion Travel Group
It’s that wonderful time of year in the travel industry known as Wave Season – are you making the most of this lucrative time?
If you’re not familiar with Wave Season, it’s all about cruising! Wave Season – generally from late December to the end of March – is when cruise lines offer many enticing promotions to consumers to help fill the ships. This is also when cruise lines tend to release new deployments, making this prime booking time for groups as well.
Wave Season is also a busy booking period, as your customers take this time to look at future travel plans and fill up their vacation calendars. And, of course, the cold, winter months bring thoughts of warm and sunny locations! So, make sure you jump on these opportunities, as it’s a great time for you to go out there and grab new bookings or perhaps work on landing a first-time cruiser booking.
So, how can YOU make the most out of this Wave Season? Here are a few tips:
1. Know what your go-to suppliers are offering.
Find out about the promotions and offers that are in place and pay close attention to the booking windows and terms and conditions for these promotions. Your consortia and/or host agency may have tools to assist. For example, Nexion Travel Group makes supplier partner promotions available to its members in several ways, including email, member portal and a microsite toolkit, along with additional resources the advisor can use.
2. Book groups!
This is also the perfect time to start working on groups. Many itineraries are already announced for 2021, and the early bird gets the worm. Use your network to go after your repeat or new group business.
3. Tap into cruise block space.
Your consortia and/or host agency may offer cruise block space that you can book into. For example, Nexion Travel Group has thousands of cruise groups you can book into, both exclusively and through its sister company, Travel Leaders Network. This space is great for your “onesie and twosie” customers, as it can offer guaranteed amenities or specialized events not always available to the general public.
4. Think outside the box.
Don’t rely on just marketing to your current cruise clients. The travel industry is seeing growth from adventure travel, experiential travel, culinary travel and solo travel, as well as an increase of interest in using travel advisors from millennial customers. The cruise industry is doing a fantastic job on capitalizing on these trends, with a truly amazing scale of innovation. Look at your lead database and reach out to those who may love culture and cuisine, for example, but are not typically cruise bookers. Or, share the benefits of river cruising with those clients who have only experienced ocean cruises in the past.
In addition to these tips, consider going after the cruise “No Sayers.” Sometimes it’s challenging to sell cruises when negative news surrounding ocean or river cruising happens, and you’re likely to have a few clients who are reluctant to cruise. As an industry, it’s important for all of us to educate our clients, so they can make informed decisions. The cruise lines rely on us to deliver first-time cruisers, and the better we do, the less suppliers will rely on direct sales to consumers. Here are just a few reasons you can give to non-cruisers to catch the wave:
- Value – Look at everything included in your cruise – transportation, accommodation, meals (galore!), onboard activities and most entertainment. On some luxury lines, alcohol, gratuities and shore excursions are included.
- Togetherness, or not – It’s your choice if your group wants to hang out together or pursue individual interests. Cruises have special programs and activities for the little ones to adults, so there’s something for everyone.
- Convenience – You unpack once; the ship carries you to your destinations.
There’s plenty to do, or not – Cruises offer tons of activities, from wine tastings to cooking classes, rock climbing and water slides to speaker series. Or, you can lounge on a deck chair or hang out in the pool, without a worry in the world.
Here’s to a successful Wave Season! And while you’re at it, YOU should take the opportunity to catch the wave and go experience some of the ocean and river cruise suppliers you sell the most or want to learn more about.