Traditional marketing methods, such as emails and phone calls, are seen as more effective than social media. That’s among the cruise industry insights from the new 2019 How America Travels Study from the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA).
At the same time, according to the report, there is some disagreement cross-generationally on how to market cruises. Sixty-one percent of travel advisors between the ages of 18 and 54 feel that Facebook is effective at marketing cruises, as compared to only 36 percent of respondents 65+.
In fact, word-of-mouth referrals were the runaway favorite when it comes to effective marketing activities, cited by 95 percent of respondents in the report. This was followed by client appreciation events and emails, both at 60 percent, while Facebook came in at number nine on the list, picked by 43 percent of respondents.
When it comes to marketing cruises to first-timers, travel advisors suggested a wide variety of tactics, such as word of mouth, one-on-one conversations and email.
“We get a lot of referrals for first-time cruisers,” said one respondent. “These referrals come from past cruisers. We're very detailed in what they expect on each cruise line, especially when it comes to cost and destinations.”
Other key tidbits: slightly less than half (49%) of all travel advisors book cruises at least once per week or more, but this rate is higher among those who are employed at a travel agency. Fifty-seven percent of travel agency employees say that they book cruises at least once a week, as compared to only 43 percent of independents.
When it comes to cruise line satisfaction, the two most important factors, according to travel advisors, are providing value to clients and a great sales support team for issue resolution. “Clients asking about a cruise brand” is the most motivating issue for advisors to seek out training on a particular line, followed by that line having diverse training formats. When it comes to travel agency owners and executives, “frequent BDM interaction from cruise lines” is the most important factor, cited by 73 percent of respondents.