We recently published our Q4 “Travel Trends & Advisor Insight” report, which uncovered some really great information about travel advisors’ businesses and travelers’ top trends. For one, all-inclusive resorts are dominating when it comes to the types of accommodations that clients are looking for. Major players like Accor, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts are all in the process of expanding their all-inclusive options across a range of categories—from budget to luxury—and that trend doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon.

Clients are also willing to spend up on air travel (including things like first-class tickets, lounge access and meet-and-greet services) to make the experience more pleasurable. Adventure and active tours, culinary and dining experiences, and wellness treatments were also popular categories that travel advisors reported their clients spending more on.

One thing that stood out to me, however, was that interest in cruising is up—and not just among experienced cruisers. Nearly two-thirds of advisors said they were receiving inquiries about cruises from clients who have never booked one previously. These clients are most interested in family cruises, adults-only cruises, premium cruise lines, contemporary cruise lines and river cruises. It’s great to see the sector not only rebound from the lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic but thrive in its wake.

Matt Turner at Ultra
Matt Turner, previously a non-cruiser himself, has found that only meant he hadn’t taken the right cruise yet. (Tim Fuchs)

Why new cruisers are a growing portion of advisors’ client bases could be for numerous reasons, including their value proposition or the myriad of new options designed to attract luxury hotel clientele like The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Explora Journeys, as well as the upcoming Four Seasons Yachts and Orient Express’ first sailing vessel, Orient Express Silenseas.

In a roundtable that we hosted at Signature Travel Network’s annual Sales Conference in Las Vegas last November, Jonathan Alder, founder of Jonathan’s Travels, a member of TravelStore, said, “There’s literally a cruise for absolutely everyone. Some people are expeditious, some people want ‘Vegas at sea,’ some people want a small luxury yacht, but there’s something for you in that market.”

It’s a great point because I’m sure every advisor out there has heard from at least one client, “Cruising is not for me” or “I hate cruises.” To that, Alder always asks, “Have you ever taken a cruise?” If you stayed at a Motel 6 the first time you traveled, it might affect how you view hotels, he said—but not all hotels are a Motel 6 and Motel 6s aren’t designed for every traveler.

If you have that client or two who feels cruising isn’t for them, try and find the type of cruise that best fits their travel style, whether that’s a large, family-friendly ship with all the bells and whistles, a smaller luxury cruise with no children, a sailing or expedition vessel, a river cruise, etc. Plus, you can always combine a cruise with a luxury stay on land, so there will still be an aspect of the trip that the client is familiar with. And this doesn’t even include that many destinations are best experienced by water as traveling overland to certain remote destinations may be a challenge or, worse, they might not have a (luxury) hotel!

So, try to find the right way to introduce cruising to your non-cruising clients. We’re very certain that you can use your expertise in your client to match them with the right product and they will thank you afterward. And if you need any more incentive, especially on the luxury end, the commissions that come with a cruise booking aren’t too bad.

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