Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Planning the perfect cruise party

Planning the perfect cruise party

By Tom Stieghorst
*Insight Among the many valuable workshops at CLIA’s Cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale was one from Carnival Cruise Lines given the catchy name “Hook ’Em and Book ’Em.”

The subject was how to organize a cruise party for first-time cruisers, and it played to a packed room of over 100 agents, with more than a dozen standing for the 50-minute presentation.

The most important takeaway might be that this isn’t rocket science. If you’ve ever hosted a party for friends and family, a business-related event is only a few steps more work.

There should be nametags, for example, said Frank Robleto, Carnival’s business development manager for Miami and Puerto Rico. “Acknowledge them by name,” he said. “That goes a long way towards building a relationship.”

Even if you don’t get a booking right away out of your party, making that contact and nurturing it will pay off eventually.

“Grow your lead tree,” advised Jason Douglas, Carnival’s business development manager for Broward, Palm Beach and the Caribbean. “Get as many clients as possible. You’re not going to make a sale every time.”

Douglas said the last four parties he helped agents in his territory to organize led to on-site bookings of six, eight, zero and 18 cabins.

The 18 cabins were only some of the 55 cabins booked over the course of four hours for multiple brands at Away Travel/Transat Holidays USA, which specializes in serving the French-Canadian demographic in South Florida.

Six agents equipped with laptops were stationed around the room to make sure anyone who had been hooked was booked.

Another takeaway was that agents shouldn’t break the bank to put on a party. Alicia Steuart, director of home-based partnerships at Carnival, suggested a $100 budget, enough for some wine and cheese and a few color-coordinated decorative items.

A little music enlivens the party and acts as a mnemonic device, reminding the guest of you when they hear the tune in another setting.

Finally, ask for the sale. “Because if you don’t, somebody else will,” said Douglas. “You have to ask for the business. Be pushy. The worst thing they can tell you is no.”