Non-cruisers Explain Why It's So

CLIA took an unusual step in helping agents sell cruises Sunday, by introducing attendees at the cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale to a panel of consumers from across the nation who have never cruised and have no desire to do so. It helped CLIA show the challenges in the marketplace and helped agents identify the concerns and misperceptions consumers have. When asked to shut their eyes and then immediately open them and say what one strong perception about cruising they had, the consumers said: Kathie Lee Gifford; a swimming pool and beach balls; the newlywed, overfed and nearly dead; a big crowded ship; relaxation; lots of drinking; and gambling. The consumers who had used an agent said in most cases, their agent never brought up the idea of a cruise. All used the Internet to research and even book other travel. About half said they would book a cruise online themselves, while the other half said it was too complex and they would use a travel agent. Nearly all liked the idea that they could go on the Internet 24-7 and even at 2 a.m. and book what they wanted. What would it take to get these consumers onboard a cruise ship? One man said he would like longer, exotic cruises, but didn't have the time. One said her husband would have to be convinced. Another said he would want a big ship so he did not get seasick. Asked to list perceptions about typical cruisers, the consumers identified: a man in a Bermuda shirt, shorts and flip flops; somebody up north who is retired flying down for a cruise; a baby boomer looking for fun; a cruise ship full screaming kids or a ship full of 80-year-old plus travelers; a senior group traveling together; and a guy with tacky clothing. Would the non-cruisers plan a cruise for a special anniversary or event? No, said the majority; they would rather go to Rome, Paris or Lake Como, Italy. Do the recent events of the past few weeks with cruise ships safety incidents concern them? Most said "no."

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