July, 2014 – This article from Travel Market Report discusses tips for travel agents on selling cruises to the untapped market of affluent consumers. (http://www.travelmarketreport.com/content/publiccontent.aspx?pageid=1365&articleID=11336&LP=1)

By Harvey Chipkin


When it comes to selling cruises, affluent Americans are a market whose untapped potential is surprisingly large.

Recent consumer studies from the American Affluence Research Center show that a high number of affluent Americans have not taken a cruise for at least a decade – if ever. Moreover, wealthy Americans who have cruised are not repeating the experience with much frequency.

For agents, those facts spell opportunity, said Ron Kurtz, head of the American Affluence Research Center and a former cruise executive himself.

Kurtz has been studying the spending patterns of the wealthy (see sidebar) for many years. His most recent research shows some surprising facts about that group, notably their attitudes toward – and experiences with – cruising.

Kurtz shared his observations on the affluent and cruising – as well as his lessons for agents –with Travel Market Report.

1.    Over half of the affluent (54%) have never cruised, or at least not during the last 10 years.

What this means for agents: Affluents can afford to cruise, so agents need to give them facts to overcome their objections to cruising, whether it be fears about motion sickness or misconceptions about the cruise experience.

There is great potential for attracting first-time cruisers among affluent consumers.

2.    The affluents who have cruised average only one cruise every three years. At least one  cruise per year is a realistic target, since about 7% of the affluent average one or more cruises per year.

What agents can do: Agents should give this group reasons to cruise more frequently.

Tell them how ships and the cruise experience have changed in recent years. Let customers know about the wide variety of destinations cruises visit today. Educate them about the fact that cruises offer great value in comparison to land vacations.

3.    Over 3.5 million affluent people cruise in any given year, sailing on brands across the contemporary, premium and luxury categories.

What this demonstrates: This shows the opportunity for agents to sell up (by type of accommodation and by category) and the potential for intergenerational cruising.

4.    Only 8% of the affluent have taken a river cruise.

What this says about the niche: River cruises are a product that offers new sales potential, given recent growth in capacity and the further growth that is planned.

5.    The affluent have limited awareness and familiarity with most cruise brands. This is especially true for the luxury brands, which should be attractive to them.

The take-away is: Agents can – and should – be an important source of information for clients about cruise brands.