Open Jaw

The Luxury Of Selling All Inclusive Cruising

with Vanessa Lee

This headliner edition features 3 diverse cruise products: Paul Gauguin’s enchanting cruising in French Polynesia; A-Rosa’s all-inclusive river journeys and Silversea’s elegant smaller-ship ocean voyages.

According to Cruise Strategies President, Vanessa Lee, “The products are diverse, but there’s something crucial in common.”

The point of intersection, says Lee, is a ‘luxurious’ experience. But what does luxury mean? How do you sell it? To some, luxury is 500 thread count Frette sheets, Bulgari bath products and Grey Goose as the house vodka. To Lee, luxury is a broader concept that can be summarized in just 3 words.

“Luxury is choice.”

Silversea, Paul Gauguin and A-Rosa all offer an all-inclusive cruising concept – in different variations – that Lee says set the tone for an experience that transcends other products.

There’s no need to sign for drinks. There’s zero pressure to tip – gratuities are neither required nor expected and staff are highly trained and well-compensated. Guests can dine when they want and with whom they choose. In short, it’s their party - and one that Lee says is never stuffy or boring.

Lee offers advice on how to find the right customer for an all-inclusive cruising product and how to paint a picture of the ambiance that will capture the client’s imagination and help you close the sale.

The 1st thing on a cruise seller’s mind should be: “What kind of experience does my client want? Just because the price point is higher, don’t assume they won’t be interested.

  Identifying An All-Inclusive Cruise Client

Lee says the 1st thing on a cruise seller’s mind should be: “What kind of experience does my client want? Just because the price point is higher, don’t assume they won’t be interested. Sometimes they’re looking for something they don’t even know they’re looking for.”

Are they foodies, looking for distinctive dining? Do they seek a more intimate experience than that of a large mainstream cruise ship? Do they want an easy, uncomplicated experience? Are they social people who love to interact and make new friends? Positive answers to these questions suggest likely candidates.

Lee says another key target is cruisers who have sailed 6 or more times in a traditional cruise model. “They’re usually more than ready to move up and try something different,” Lee says.

“Why not try to take your client to the next level?” Lee says. “The bottom-line is, if you don’t ask them, they can’t say ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”

You can’t just list amenities. You need to wrap the sell in expression, give goose-bumps, put them in that place. The goal is to make the client go ‘Aha!’

  Painting A Picture

The key to selling all-inclusive cruising is to help your clients understand what they’ll get in a way that resonates with them, says Lee.

“You can’t just list amenities. You need to wrap the sell in expression, give goose-bumps, put them in that place. The goal is to make the client go ‘Aha!’ and then give them the right direction to the right cruise.”

When it comes to selling all-inclusive cruising, Lee says agents need to sell the ambiance.

“When they hear ‘all-inclusive,’ they tend to think ‘my booze is included,’” says Lee. “But it’s so much more than that. The all-inclusive cruising model is the steward of the overall experience, and onboard service is particularly enhanced.”

The 3 products featured here offer ships that range from 88 to 600 passengers – small fry in a time of 5,000+ passenger ships. That’s a huge selling point, Lee says.

“The atmosphere on these ships is like a house party that lasts for a week or more. You are welcomed graciously, like you’re becoming part of a family. Guests quickly find the staff calling them by name. Then they realize the ease of not having to sign for anything. Their 1st impression is ‘Wow’ and then off they go.”

Open dining just adds to the experience, Lee says. “You meet people and very soon it’s ‘Can we join you for cocktails?’ Then it’s ‘Should we have dinner together tonight?’” Lee recounts 1 cruise where her dining group kept expanding until it was 14 people and they received special permission to take over the Captain’s table. “If you’re social, this is the perfect experience,” she says.

Lee says it’s the little service touch-points that elevate the experience, like walking up to the bar and having the bartender know your favourite drink. “It’s thoughtful, personalized service. Who doesn’t want that? Those are the things agents need to bring to life for their clients.”

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