Pick the best itinerary for first-time cruisers

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In the nascent market of Southeast Asia where cruise penetration rate is less than 0.05%, lies an immense opportunity for travel agents to promote cruise to new cruisers.

Before my first cruise five years ago – I had no idea what to expect or even what activities I would enjoy through a cruise holiday. I am sure many new-to-cruise consumers face the same problem – fuelling their hesitation to go on a cruise holiday.

The key to a travel agent success is – qualifying your client!

We often hear people say that a cruise holiday has something to offer for just about everyone. For the first time cruise passenger, you can probably simplify this into two main categories. Do as much or as little as you like – very cliché, but also very true!

A cruise certainly delivers plenty of time to totally unwind and relax if that is what you are looking for OR, a cruise can also provide an opportunity to get out and discover destinations that would not usually be considered as a holiday option.

For you as the travel agent, it is critical to get to know your potential clients by asking as many questions as you need, to get a picture of what they are looking for. How can you make a recommendation when you do not know much about the person or people in front of you?

What are your client’s expectations? Are they looking to relax and read a book? In this instance look for an itinerary with several days at sea. The expanse of the sea with miles and miles of nothing can be rejuvenating. As well there is more time to be pampered by the attentive crew and of course – no cooking, cleaning or unpacking more than once.

Do they find the thrill of several days shopping their way of relaxing, are they interested in history or do they wish to sample many different locations? In this case look for an itinerary that offers multiple ports of call.

It is most important to remember that it is your client’s holiday – not yours! Just because you like a particular destination, product or activity does not mean your clients will too!

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)’s membership offers a globally recognised online training and accreditation programme – specially designed for travel agents. Visit www.cliaasia.org to join.

Jiali Wong is the Regional Manager for Asia, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)