Book cruise with only $50 deposits

Wilkinson … it is all about service

Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Middle East roadshow toured Dubai, Kuwait City and Manama last month to share cruising trends, touch upon the future of cruising in the Middle East, and share insights on how to attract new travellers to cruise. Vice-president and managing director, UK & I and MEA, Nick Wilkinson, shared initial thoughts about this interaction with the regional trade. 

“The main challenge in the market remains the late nature of its bookings despite the ‘Book with Confidence’ initiative. More and more agents from the region are finding it difficult to book cabins of their customers’ choice as the global market is very strong. Everything needs to be sold 120 days before sailing.”

To encourage regional travel agents, the regional VP and MD of NCL has an unbeatable region-only promotion. “Excluding the Haven but including every other cabin grade, get the client to book the family cabin, the interconnected cabin, and enjoy reduced deposit costs of only $50 per person.” This offer is valid till the end of October only, but Wilkinson let slip that it will extend to the end of November as well. The usual deposit for a seven-night cruise is usually in the range of $250 per person, added Ashok Kumar, cruise guru at Cruise Master.

“We have a great case study to share,” continues Wilkinson. “We did a trial with one of the agents. They reached their database a few months in advance and signed up some clients, assuring them that they’ll get their money back if they cancel their booking 120 days in advance of the sailing. Two months later, said agent contacted the same customers and shared flight details. The results were quite satisfying.”

Wilkinson shares invaluable insight: “Once they have done the flights, 99 per cent of people will travel. Also, staged approach like this works best because it also gives agents multiple and continual touchpoints to connect with their customers, who feel that the service you are providing is above and beyond.”

Often travel agents will wonder, where to start? Who should be the first people to approach with cruise ideas? “Speak to all the guests who you could not meet the needs of this year, those that went away disappointed. This is a great opportunity to build relationships, and it is all about service,” concludes Wilkinson.