By Craig Satterfield, ECCS
Amusement parks on the high seas? Is this ideagoing to float? Time will tell. Now with a new batch of cruise ships either recently inaugurated,now being built, or being refit, we are faced with a new trend in cruises. Gone is the idea of sitting in a deck chair with a good book and watching the sea views before you doze off for a well-deserved afternoon nap. What happened to giving yourself permission to enjoy a two hour lunch in the dining room on a day at sea. This apparently is a thing of the past. The idea of getting away from it all is no longer in the cruise ship cards.
I was recently in attendance at CLIA’s very first “virtual ship inspection” at their conference in Las Vegas and had the chance to preview Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas now under construction. It was a lot of fun to see a ship that doesn’t even exist yet, but in a virtual presentation. It was almost like we were aboard. The new build’s future God-mother Kristin Chenoweth was our video hostess. She took us deck by deck thru the new ideas presented for the first time on this ship.
The big push this time was not for extensive deck areas, dramatic dining or showrooms, but the amazing new attractions that are going to be offered not just on the deck, but even above it.
All of these new attractions will definitely cut into your deck chair and nap time. Everybody knows that Royal Caribbean has been the top innovator in activities with rock climbing, ice skating, and boxing rings, but how are we going to resist Northstar, this glass ball attached to a hydraulic arm that lifts 14 cruisers out over the side of the ship at 300 feet in the air while at sea, or Ripcord by Ifly which is a sky diving simulator no cruise ship should be without. Is it hard to find bumper cars in your town? No problem just sail on Quantum and you can become an expert.
I ask, are these the reasons why we want to take a nice relaxing cruise? The answer is up to your clients. Is this another gimmick to get land lubbers on the water? Has cruising been so boring for all these many years that we need more and more of these entertainment options to make us happy? Cruise lines are spending plenty of money on these activities to prove that guests want them. Is this the new future of cruising or just a fad?
This adds a whole additional layer of questions and sales training to qualify your clients, something entirely new. You must take the time to learn about all of these options as cruise lines will be running ads pushing these new amusements. According to cruise lines, they are supposed to be a big hit. In addition, you will also have to add time to your qualification process to see if an amusement park at sea is on your client’s bucket list.
Qualification, the art of asking the right questions to advise your guests on the cruise ship or line for them is an art. It is one of the most important jobs you have as a consultant. Amazingly enough, one of the best ways to get the right information is not opening your mouth at all, but listening. We are listening for those buzz words that help you in determining the right cruise for your guests. Let them be in control of the conversation, you will learn much from the experience. Then just repeat back what they have told you without judgment. At this point you have gained the information you need to make a professional presentation. It also reduces the possibility of mistakes that you will have to fix later. Use your curiosity to ask more open ended questions to fill in the logistical gaps in their travel plans to complete the process. This step also reconfirms your true professionalism and thoroughness. Be careful not to sound like an interrogator.
Guests who book direct with cruise lines miss out on this important step and risk the chance of missing out on working with an expert. I would be like self-diagnosing yourself off the internet and taking whatever medication you think is appropriate. A very dangerous proposition! Take a look at one of those cruise review websites sometime and you will find so much wrong information. I shudder when I read them.
Booking cruises in 2013 has become more and more involved with the addition of alternative dining options, air- schedule programs whichoffer guests to pick their own flights, reservations in advance for special shows now offered on the mega ships, and don’t forget there are only 32 different cabin categories offered on the Oasis class vessels. Add the wealth of activities being added on or being introduced on to today’s modern ships and thisjust might wear your guest out with all of the decision to be made. That deck chair looks awfully good to me right now.