Down the Stretch: Agents Rate Their 2016 Cruise Sales & Next Step

Cruise sales are up in 2016 as the cruise industry spreads across the globe. Seen here is Royal Caribbean International's Mariner of the Seas docked in Hong Kong. // Photo by Royal Caribbean 

With less than three months until year’s end, travel agents across the country say that cruise sales are generally good, very good or excellent. In a recent Travel Agent magazine survey, more than 20 franchise owners and travel agents from Cruises Inc., CruiseOne, Cruise Planners, Dream Vacations and independent agencies affiliated with Avoya Travel Network rated their sales and identified the one activity they'll do to enhance sales by year's end.

Sales Look Positive  

How would you rate your cruise sales now versus a year ago, Travel Agent asked. The agents responded as follows:

• Excellent - 31.58 percent

• Very good – 21.05 percent

• Good – 42.11 percent

• Fair – 5.26 percent

• Poor – 0.00 percent

Cruisers can see the world from their private balcony. // Photo of Norwegian Breakaway by Susan J. Young

In just a sampling of the agent "ratings" for their 2016 sales, Debra Kerper, franchise owner, Cruise Planners, Carrollton, TX, responded “excellent,” as did Mary Head, Sunset Holdings, an independent agency affiliated with Avoya Travel, Nashville, TN.

Rodney George, franchise owner, Cruise Planners, Naples, FL , characterized his sales as “very good” adding that his revenues were up 42 percent year-over-year to date.  Also responding "very good" were Susan Wolfson, Go Astro Travel LLC, Allentown, PA, an independent agency within the Avoya Travel Network, and Tony Lostumbo, franchise owner, Cruise Planners, Weston, FL.

Chris Caulfield, franchise owner, CruiseOne, Croton on Hudson, NY, and Jack Fingerman, independent vacation specialist, Cruises Inc., Mount Laurel, NJ, said sales were “good," while Ann Hayward, franchise owner, Cruise Planners, Valley Cottage, NY said her cruise sales were "fair" this year.  

Top Planned Activity?  

To build sales through year’s end, we asked these and other agents what one thing they’d do from a business perspective. The reaction was diverse:

• Do Better Customer Outreach – 35 percent

• Ramp Up Marketing and Advertising – 20 percent

• Work More Closely with My Host/Consortia to Take Advantage of Opportunities – 15 Percent

• Set Up a Special Event or Cruise Night – 15 Percent

• Complete Additional Training or Specialist Programs – 10 Percent

• Other – 5 Percent

Better customer outreach was top of mind for more than one third of our survey group including Felipe Bossans, Vacations Done Right, an independent agency affiliated with Avoya Travel, Miami Beach, FL; Darci Upham, franchise owner, CruiseOne, Hampstead, NC, and Linda Hilson, franchise owner, Cruise Planners, Winter Haven, FL.

Holland America will have seven ships in Alaska next summer. // Photo by Susan J. Young

Among the 20 percent planning to complete additional training or a specialist program were Lisa Marmon and JJ Kuykendall, owners of Cruise Planners franchises in Armonk, NY, and Conroe, TX, respectively.

Alternatively, Kathy Kennedy, franchise owner, Cruise Planners, Blountville, TN, plans to set up a special event or cruise night, while George says his agency does two events per year called Journey of a Lifetime and “they produce a ton of new clients.”

Hayward is planning to work more closely with her franchise organization, while Kerper and Lainey Melnick, franchise owner, Dream Vacations, Austin, TX, will ramp up advertising and marketing.

All in all, agents report it’s turning out to be a good year for cruise selling, despite Zika and global political events. The Caribbean and Alaska remain the top cruise selling regions, per our recent survey.

Proof of strong Alaska sales? Last week, Holland America Line announced it would put a seventh ship, the most in the industry, in Alaska in summer 2017, pulling the Oosterdam from Europe and repositioning it in Alaska, given strong consumer demand. 


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