Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Air/cruise package vacation Down Under: Not a hard sell

Air/cruise package vacation Down Under: Not a hard sell

By Tom Stieghorst
*InsightA half-dozen agents got the news last week that they’re going Down Under,  courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.
To celebrate a new partnership with Air New Zealand, Celebrity held a drawing for a 10-day fam trip.
Winners were based on entries from sales of Australia/New Zealand Book & Go Packages, which included roundtrip air, a 12-night cruise, a beverage package for two, transfers and a three-night hotel in Sydney. *TomStieghorst 
More than 500 packages were sold in August, Celebrity said.
But New Zealand is a very long flight from the United States, and an expensive trip to boot. How hard was it to sell those packages?
Not so hard at all. “I have no problem selling Australia and New Zealand,” said Diane “Dee Dee” Rangel, an agent at Sunrise Travel in Mission Viejo, Ca. who is one of the fam trip winners.
Rangel said she has sold about eight trips to the region over the past year, mostly to couples, but one to a family group.  From the West Coast, the air trip is only a little longer than flying to Europe, and promotions can help ease the cost, which Rangel put at $12,000 to $15,000 a couple.
For clients of Los Angeles based veteran Chuck Ragel, the flight is the biggest objection to the trip. “It’s more so for older people,” he said. 
Ragel, who founded Sail Away Cruises & Tours 15 years ago after, coincidentally, leaving a position with Celebrity, said the draw for his clients includes unique wildlife, rugged landscape and the novelty of seeing the other side of the world. 
He said Air New Zealand brings added value. “I’ve heard real positive things about the airline, so I’m looking forward to that,” he said.
Bonnie Snowhite, an agent at Travel of America, Covina, Ca., who was also selected for the fam, said that the air/cruise package is one of the most effective ways of selling Australia and New Zealand.
Snowhite said the Book and Go packages were sometimes priced under $5,000 per person. “Just the airfare alone can be $2,000,” she said. “If you can find a special rate with the air and cruise combined, its probably going to be the best value.”