Wave season: how to sell more cruises in 2024

Selling cruise holidays for 2024? Now’s the time to start planning your peaks promotions ready for the new year, writes Katie McGonagle

What is wave season?

The facts: The wave season is the cruise equivalent of ‘peaks’ – that prime sales period at the start of the year, when cruise lines release their best money-off or added-value deals to make the most of the surge in demand as people seek something to look forward to after the festive season.

For most lines, it runs from January to February or March, but in recent years some, such as Virgin Voyages, have put deals out as early as December, picking up on the post-Black Friday buzz. Look out for announcements from lines and read the small print of their specific terms and closing dates as these vary widely.

The details: Wave deals span substantial discounts off published fares, low deposit offers, free or heavily reduced rates for kids or additional guests, and added extras.

That might mean a free upgrade to a higher room or suite category, free drinks packages, credit to spend on board, complimentary Wi-Fi, shore excursions or speciality dining. Double-check the specifics, as deals differ.

The training: Use any downtime you might have in December to make sure you’re up to date on the latest cruise line training programmes and new product. Also ensure you are signed up to the lines’ trade portals, so you can be first to hear about their wave deals.

Ambassador Suite

Top tips for sales

Double-check your database: Is your marketing database up to date? Don’t wait until after the turkey and tinsel to realise your customer list needs a revamp.

If you need to expand your reach or renew out-of-date contacts, consider running a Christmas competition now to capture fresh client data, or a social media promotion to improve your following on key platforms, so when the new year starts, your promotions reach the right people.

Marketing magic: There’s another good reason to make sure you’re up to date with your favourite cruise lines’ agent hubs: once wave deals are announced, you’ll find lots of ready-made marketing materials that are free to use in e-shots, on social media or in your shop window. So, you can get the deal out there right away and spend your valuable time on sales.

Target non-cruisers: If you normally focus your promotions on past cruise clients, try to expand your target market. Focus on the great value that a cruise can offer compared with a holiday on land – even more so with the excellent deals and discounts available during the wave period – as cost-of-living pressures mean customers are seeking better value than ever.

Consider price-conscious families, solo travellers or couples, and emphasise the fact that they can beat inflation by booking at today’s prices for sailings in late 2024, 2025 or even 2026.

PICTURES: Ambassador Cruise Line; Virgin Voyages/Melanie Acevedo

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