Travel agents selling cruise should be reading consumer blog posts and using social media in the same way as their customers, Advantage delegates have been told.
Carnival UK sales and customer services director Giles Hawke said it was also vital agents ensured their websites contained more content and live pricing.
“You should be reading what customers are saying and using that huge wealth of information out there. Many agents’ websites are centred more on price and very little around content. The more you can add, the greater service you can offer,” he said.
The number of cruise bookings online will grow and agents need to be prepared, he added.
“There is not a huge amount of online booking going on but it is happening and this will increase without a doubt. Customers will be looking at your sites to see the product and compare prices. If you do not have some sort of live online pricing facility you are probably missing out,” he said.
He urged agents to think of the web as their shop window to attract customers and embrace search engine optimisation and pay-per-click technology, and said agents would have to deal with paperless ticketing for many cruise brands soon.
The majority of P&O Cruises and Cunard’s tickets, bar those for its round-the-world cruises, will be e-tickets from November. From October 1 Princess Cruises will only issue e-tickets. These will be emailed to agents, who can either email or print them out for customers, he said.
Hurtigruten sales and marketing director Kathryn Beadle added that agents should consider profiling their customers in order to ensure they are matched to the right cruise product.
“Profiling your typical customer is one way of doing this. There are a lot of cruise companies you can work with to identify which product suits customers in your area,” she said.