Cruise or Lose!

As George Dooley outlines in an article today , Royal Caribbean International is taking a new tack in its marketing efforts to lure would-be cruisers. The bottom line of the Royal Caribbean campaign is this: Vacation time is invaluable and people are not using all of their vacation days.

Even as home-based or independent agents who may not report to higher authority, you know how that goes. Every year December rolls around and you realize you didn’t take all the time off this year that you had planned. Of course, you have a certain flexibility within your own working arrangement but the majority of Americans don’t. And in corporations all over the U.S., “use ‘em or lose ‘em” is the prevailing policy. Rolling over vacation days into the next year is a frowned-upon—if not forbidden—practice, and anyway what good will more days do next year when you couldn’t take the 10 you were entitled to this year?

In his article, George cites some surprising numbers:

• U.S. adults who only receive an average of 13 vacation days per year typically leave three days unused.
• Each year an average of 459 million vacation days are going unused in the U.S.
• Three-quarters of Americans anticipate leaving as many as 10 vacation days on the table in 2010.

If you think of all those abandoned days as part of a commissionable vacation that somebody could be taking, then you see why it’s so important for travel agents to sound the alarm. When meeting with clients, don’t be shy about trying to push them into a longer trip. Ask them how many vacation days they get, and how many they plan to use. Build them the trip they want, but also sketch out an attractive alternative that could add two or three days. The worst they could do is say “no thank you”—but it’s likely that more than a few will take you up on the longer trip.

And remind them that there’s no reason to feel guilty. Much of the rest of the world, Europe in particular, has a whole lot more leisure time than the “spoiled” Americans and they don’t seem to be the least bit bothered by that.