-Will they go sailing into 2011?
Q: What will the New Year hold in store for the Cruise Business? What new changes will be brought about in the way we conduct business?
A: As for the first question, we all better shine up our crystal balls, because it’s really anybody’s guess. But there are some troubling changes on the horizon. Some cruise lines have begun reinstating their fuel supplement charges as a result of ever-increasing prices in crude oil. Add to that the also seemingly rising “non- commissionable” portions of the cruise fares, which now requires the cruise consultant/agent to sell more while making less. Group Amenity points policies are tightening up, while the list of available uses (for them) seems to be dwindling. These are but a few viewpoints which prevail on the minds of many collegues that I have spoken to, with respect to the year 2010 in review. Which at least for the beginning of 2011, appears likely will continue to be.
Q: Will the downed economy continue to affect (and if so, how much) our bottom lines? What is the outlook for Supply vs. Demand, and how will that dictate the overall picture?
A: As for the Cruise Lines, we have already seen a vast array of cost cutting, stream-lined efforts designed to target their response to the shrinking profit margin. New and innovative ideas for increasing on-board revenues. Bringing aboard special services and product features that the cruise public appears to be buying into, (whether they really needed them or not). Specialized Classes and Educational (Enrichment) offerings, Upscale Coffee Bars, and the fact that people tend to purchase more of something nice for themselves while on vacation than they would at home. Shore Excursions offering “added” desirability to get that something-extra out of your time away from the ship (while bringing increased revenue to the Cruise Line themselves). New itineraries and destinations, that offer added adventure, but in reality (since) much of the cruise market is repeat customers, they needed to change-up the ports of call list, and their available offerings to continue to be able to market to those who have already been there, and done that! In short what we’ll need to do to fill all of those extra berths!!
Q: What will it take for us to remain on top, (or as with the case of most of us) just keep our heads above the water line?
A: It would be best if we look to specific market needs. If 2010 is any worthwhile indicator of future business, let’s take a look at specific market segments and what the Cruise Lines have done in the way of meeting their needs.
Single/Solo Cruisers- While some Cruise Lines have reduced their Single Supplement Fare structures to entice the small market of this type of cruiser, it’s a niche that appears to be growing. Whether it is a senior active adult (without a partner) or a young single upwardly mobile professional person, the Cruise Lines are recognizing this is a unique market and some (two ships launched in 2010) are offering special “studio” (scaled down sized) staterooms designed with the single/solo passenger in mind.
Families – (in particular) Multi Generational cruising passengers are being targeted as a growth market for the Cruise Lines. Whether it is due to the economic climate, or simply an evolving price conscious buying marketplace; the fact remains that there are many more family outings coming to the cruise vacation arena, that desire to all travel together.
Internet Market – We are a product of our environment and the Cruise Lines are no different. Just as it seemed there had been a out cropping of Internet “moguls” to pursue the huge market of the (would-be) deal hunters in front of their computer screens, the Cruise Lines themselves are now present, (and not only) on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, and Blog Sites are jam-packed with the various cruise lines themselves participating in the social media revolution. I admit that, I too took to the wireless waves in 2010, and see a definite increase in business as a result of my presence there.
While these are merely a scant look at some of the pressing issues and concerns we all have regarding the future of cruising, it is at least a review of what actions the Cruise Lines themselves are (or in the process of) implementing to attempt to continue to meet the increased challenges we are all going to be faced with for the next few years (at least in my humble opinion). As professional cruise planners/agents we too are going to have to look at new and innovative ways to generate more sales in order to remain competitive and in business.
For more information on Cruise and Vacation Travel Sales, you can contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . You can follow this blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also is editor of his own twice daily e-newspapaer called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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