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At the recent American Marketing Group, Inc.’s (AMG) global travel agent conference, which took place earlier this month, a panel of top-notch cruise line execs offered tips on selling cruise.

The panel, which was moderated by Charles A. B. Sylvia, ECC, v.p. of membership and trade relations for CLIA, included Vicki Freed, sr. v.p., sales, trade support and service for Royal Caribbean International; Jason Montague, president and CEO for Regent Seven Seas Cruises; Adolfo Perez, sr. v.p. of sales & trade marketing, Carnival Cruise Line; Dondra Ritzenthaler, sr. v.p. of sales, trade support & service, North America, UK & APAC for Celebrity Cruises; Lori Sheller, sr. v.p. of strategic sales & groups for MSC Cruises USA; and Camille Olivere sr. v.p. sales for Norwegian Cruise Line.

  • The most successful accounts are communicating their message most effectively by “making it personal and delivering on their promise,” says Carnival’s Perez.
  • “Internet is your best friend because there’s so much information that it causes consumer confusion and you help them exceed expectation,” says RCI’s Freed.
  • An ideal way to market to “new to cruise”? “Alaska or Hawaii are naturally a great way to introduce people to cruising,” says NCL’s Olivere.
  • In regard to booking profitability, “don’t be afraid to ask for the wallet to be bigger, asking for your customer to be in better accommodations—asking for more is ok because you make more money and they will be happier on the other side,” says Celebrity’s Ritzenthaler.
  • “After going on a cruise, three out of five customers book their next cruise with another agent. They leave you due to indifference; they don’t feel connected. You need to keep in touch—not via email, via phone as that creates the dialogue. Don’t ignore the after experience,” says Freed.
  • “Go old school after the cruise: write a letter, ask about referrals,” says Regent’s Montague.
  • “Be an expert. Would anybody cut their own hair? No, you go to an expert. Take travel agent courses because clients want an expert,” says Ritzenthaler.
  • “People who have education certificates make 50 percent more than those who do not. All of us [cruise lines] have amazing training programs,” says Olivere.