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Selling Enrichment ProgramsJuly 1, 2007 By: David Eisen Home-Based Travel Agent
This industry-wide sampling will give you tips for increasing revenue and pairing clients with their perfect vacation
Enrichment programs are not only enjoyable for passengers; agents can use them as a source of additional income. It could be that potential cruisers aren't cruising because they feel it is purely hedonistic and offers nothing from an educational standpoint. By discussing enrichment programs or a themed cruise, you may just find yourself a new client. Here, cruise line executives give some insight on how to play up enrichment programs andgain those extra commissions.
Tips for Selling Themed Cruises
Targeting "foodies" is one approach. Country clubs, wine shops and fine restaurants teem with potential clients wanting more than just the sedentary, uninspiring vacation. In qualifying a particular customer, agents can use enrichment programs as something that can set apart ships.
Another tip is to play up the angle that most enrichment programs are offered at no extra cost. Also, clients will be cruising with people sharing the same interests. Statistics support the thought that themed cruises attract first-time cruisers. MSC estimates that when a group is promoted because of a theme, probably 70 percent of people who take the cruise have never cruised before.
Programs on High-End Lines
Regent Seven Seas Cruises (www.rssc.com) showcases food and wine as part of its Circles of Interest program, which is designed for guests wanting a deep focus on a particular area of interest. The program limits participation to enhance the personal experience. The luxury line recently added eight new food and wine Circles of Interest, including demonstrations in Italian and Norwegian cuisine and classes in Bordeaux wines.
Regent competitor Silversea (www.silversea.com) brings aboard many prominent figures to conduct its enrichment programs. Movie critic Rex Reed will host his second consecutive Silver Screen Cinema program on Silver Shadow's 2008 world cruise; Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes will submit his knowledge gained as a correspondent on Silver Cloud's Landscapes and Legacies voyage this summer; Rex Pickett, whose novel Sideways helped turn wine into more than just a dinner drink, will host a screening of the hit movie in December on Silver Shadow.
Programs on Mass-Market Lines
While the luxury lines have their own set of enrichment programs that are tailored to meet the needs of an affluent clientele, premium and mass-market lines feature their own assortment of enrichment programs to target their clientele.
Princess Cruises (www.princess.com) has its [email protected] program, which looks to teach guests new skills in ceramics, web page design and cooking with a series of "edu-tainment" courses. Passengers can choose from approximately 20 courses per voyage in four core subject areas: culinary arts, visual/creative arts, photography and computer technology. Although Princess' regular programs are complimentary, the more extensive courses begin at $10 per course.
On Holland America Line (www.hollandamerica.com), it's all about food. More than $13 million of the line's $225 million Signature of Excellence initiative was earmarked for the Culinary Arts Center, which features fleet-wide high-tech kitchens where cooking classes are taught by more than 60 celebrated chefs.
Cuisine curiosity has been a sure sign to the cruise lines that programs targeting this trend are necessary. It's also an indication that there are more fads out there to satisfy. Another trend is health and wellness. For the fifth consecutive year, Costa Cruises (www.costacruise.com) will hold a "Holistic Holiday at Sea" cruise, which serves nearly 1,000 guests who converge for seven days of health seminars, fitness and cooking classes.
Some think that the topics and types of enrichment programs offered on various lines would differ depending on guest composition. But is that line beginning to blur? Mass-market lines like Carnival Cruise Lines (www.carnival.com),
Royal Caribbean (www.royalcaribbean.com) and Norwegian Cruise Line (www.ncl.com) attract their own distinctive crowds but are now offering onboard programming that is quite similar to what the premium and luxury lines offer. Guests aboard Carnival Spirit in Alaska can take advantage of the onboard naturalist program, which includes instruction by full-time shipboard marine biologists and wildlife specialists.
Destination lectures distinguish NCL's onboard programming. Fleet wide, the line offers lifestyle and wellness lectures and classes in computers, art, and dance.
Royal Caribbean introduced its vitality program aboard Liberty of the Seas—an integrated approach to wellness, offering guests access to fitness and spa choices, culinary options and shoreside activities.
Many enrichment programs are offered year round on various ships among the cruise lines. Theme cruises offer a one-off approach to enrichment. MSC Cruises is one particular line known for hosting themed events on its ships. Upcoming themed cruises with MSC include a variety of subject matters including a culinary cruise on MSC Opera that features tastings and cooking courses; a musical cruise on MSC Melody that will recognize the accomplishments of Mozart; and, for all your clients who enjoy bridge (the card game), a cruise on MSC Orchestra with expert teachers and tournament play. MSC also offers a golf-themed cruise on MSC Sinfonia, featuring onboard golf clinics coupled with stops and play at various golf courses through Europe.
If you spend time thinking about your client list, you're sure to come up with dozens of clients who might be interested in a themed cruise, even if they're not experienced cruisers. And more clients cruising and matched with great vacations, means more revenue and more referrals.