When the economy founders and travel executives watch to see what will happen in the market, the first place they all look to is the cruise industry, since its financial model is different than most other travel suppliers. Much of the cruise lines’ revenue is generated through onboard spending, so making sure cabins are filled is paramount. Thus, we begin to see the aggressive pricing that has gripped the industry for some time now.
The good news is the cruise lines I have spoke to are telling me that booking activities are up and yields are improving. This means the rest of the travel industry is not too far behind. As luxury travel advisors, you need to step up your marketing activity. It is still a buyers’ market and it will take a while for consumers to go back to the days of buying rack rate. I suggest you do your homework: identify good opportunities for your clients and give them what I call the broker close. “The price is only going to go up, so you’d be wise to lock in now.”
I recently attended the christening of Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit in Fort Lauderdale. Many VIPs were on hand to get a closer look at Silversea’s slightly larger new ship. The first couple I met had been sailing with Silversea for 14 years. They put it best: “The first cruise we took we were guests, after that we consider ourselves family.” I had the opportunity to share this story with Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of Silversea Cruises (we are pictured above). He took it a step farther, telling me, “All our guests are treated like family.” He’s correct. I realized this upon departing the ship, about to cast off into the horizon.