Travel agent “Betty Smith” is putting a focus on selling river cruises as part of her 2017 business plan. A travel agent for more than 20 years, most of that time selling cruises, she has found great success positioning river cruising to ocean cruising clients as well as those new to cruising. Her focus on the river cruise market is smart business as river cruise demand is predicted to increase, according to CLIA’s State of the Cruise Industry Outlook 2017. “CLIA Cruise Line Members currently deploy 184 river cruise ships with 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017, an increase of about 7 percent,” according to the report.
A large part of Betty’s sales process is explaining how river cruising offers opportunity for authentic and enrichment experiences on and off the ship. We listen in below as Betty uses good sales techniques to show, not tell, experienced cruisers “Sam and Susan” about the many options available to river cruise passengers.
Sam: We are really looking to see Europe, but I want to decide if I want to explore with a group or go off on my own at my own pace. If we do a cruise, do we have options?Susan: And we want to definitely experience the real Europe, not just the most popular attractions.
Betty: Many river cruise companies offer multiple included shore excursions at different paces so you can decide if you want to be active with a hike or bike ride, or see it all at a comfortable walking pace, or even at a slower pace, taking less in but at a deeper level with group tours. Through Scenic’s Freechoice program, for example, a Rhine Highlights river cruise might include a day in Koblenz, where you can choose to take a guided tour that includes Reichsburg Castle and more, or bike ride through the city using a personal Tailormade GPS device and complimentary electronically assisted bicycle.
Susan: Oh, I like the idea of bike riding and seeing the city a little bit on our own.
Betty: The GPS device can be customized to your interests and can be used if you want to set off on foot or by bike. The commentary is automatically activated when you reach a point of interest.
Susan: Could we get lost on our own?
Betty: An interactive map helps guide you. And the best part is that with river cruising in most cases the towns to explore are right there as you walk off your river cruise ship with no need to motorcoach for miles to get to the destination. This is true whether you are part of a group shore excursion or you take off on your own.
Sam: How knowledgeable are the guides if we did the shore excursion with a group?
Betty: In most cases, river cruise lines hire local guides that specialize in that city or an area of interest and segment the group tours into smaller groups based on pace. Usually these are guides that live in the city and are experts in its history, culture, and everything there is to know about the destination.
Susan: I like that. Tell us more about the Rhine Highlights cruise.
Betty: It’s an 8-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel (and on to Zurich) with stops each day including Cologne, Koblenz, Rüdesheim, Mannheim, and Strasbourg. You’ll have multiple shore excursion options in each city and really get to know the destination. Do you want to travel in the spring, summer, or fall?
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours celebrated its 30th year of business in 2016. Founded in Australia, Scenic has expanded rapidly over the past 8 years with 4 worldwide offices in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Known for its signature inclusions, personal service and providing unforgettable memories, Scenic has garnered multiple international awards for their unwavering commitment to guest experience and travel agent partnerships.