On Site: Selling Upmarket with Azamara Club Cruises' Larry Pimentel

LAS VEGAS-- Larry Pimentel, CEO of Azamara Club Cruises believes in the age of the affluent traveler and the power of the travel agent to always sell upmarket. "This is the era of affluency and enrichment," he told the audience at Vacation.com's 13th International Conference & Trade Show. "Your client will never remember the price of their vacation. They will remember the experience."

Pimentel presented to the 1,300 agents and suppliers in attendance the best ways to sell upmarket, calling agents "value interpreters" in this new age of the affluent.

"The notion of luxury has evolved. One size only fits one," Pimentel said. In today's market it is important for travel agents to brand themselves to show that they know that quality equals value. We are living in a new reality with a new type of consumer. Price no longer determines quality.

Pimentel unveiled his Affluent Traveler's Bill of Rights as a way to help travel agents sell valuable experiences to their clients. According to Pimentel, each traveler is endowed with a certain set of inalienable rights:

1. The Right to Travel
2. The Right to Wellness and well-being
3. The Right to Unique Experiences
4. The Right to Unstructured Personal Experiences
5. The Right to Be Casual
6. The Right to Exemplary Service
7. The Right to Exemplary Cuisine
8. The Right to Quality and Value

In order to sell upmarket to clients, agents must learn from certain lessons that have been taught in previous markets. Firstly, a hyped-out experience leads to a tuned out client. Don't oversell a product. Second use plain talk. Do not mislead or misinterpret the intelligence of your client. Third, always tell the truth. Speak the language of your client and understand who he or she is and what types of experiences would appeal to them. It is important to never talk down to your client, as well.

Finally, Pimentel shared his insights on where the cruise industry is headed:
1. Large ships are the way of the future, such as the Oasis-class ships from Royal Caribbean.
2. Small cruise ships of 200 people or less are a thing of the past.
3. The destinations are becoming increasingly more important to cruisers.
4. The concept of cruising will continue to grow.
 

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