Cruises are more popular than ever. Across ages, incomes, and nationalities, people are excited about the idea of an easy, pre-packaged vacation covering multiple destinations. Sound familiar? These “cruisers” fit many of the same criteria as ideal charter guests, but they may not know that charter services exist or are an affordable alternative.
Here’s how you can try to raise awareness of your company—and boat charters in general—as an alternative to cruising.
Recently the COO of Vacations to Go, Emerson Hankemer, told Forbes that “they cannot build ships fast enough” to keep up with growing demand of cruises. This demand creates the perfect opportunity for charter boats to fill the void, but to do that, travelers must be aware that alternatives exists.
In recent years, almost twice as many people are searching for cruise vacations over charter bookings. Using search terms and language related to cruises in your online presence may help you capture some of that interest.
For instance, consider adjusting any ads you run to target people who search for “cruise vacations” or similar terms, instead of phrases tied to charter trips. In addition to any advertising efforts, you can create content for your site that highlights the parallels between a charter and a cruise. From there, you can begin to explain why a charter may even be preferable. In order to create content that attracts cruisers, here’s what the 2018 Cruise Travel Report says about what appeals to cruisers.
Cruises make traveling in groups easier, since everyone is gathered in one spot. Group activities, particularly those meant to entertain kids (like babysitting), are a big draw. However, while 41 percent of cruisers look for these services, only 13 percent actually use them. Be sure to talk about how groups can maximize the experience on your boat, and call out any activities that are particularly kid-friendly, like snorkeling.
Cruisers are increasingly appreciating out of the ordinary excursions; 62 percent of groups are asking for adventure trips as part of their cruise experience. This trend is something charter operators can capitalize on, with the additional selling point of customization.
Beyond adventure, some key groups, like Millennials, are developing a taste for the finer things. They’re more likely to book premium cruises now than in the past, making them a great demographic to target for charters that create that luxury experience.
The vast majority of cruisers appreciate being able to visit multiple destinations on their trip. In addition, six out of ten say they plan to return to the destinations they visit. When advertising your fleet, make sure to highlight all of nearby locations your guests can sail to, in addition to your base city.
Cruise guests also value having the flexibility to stay on at port cities to explore, something they can do on a chartered boat without having to book a hotel room on either end of their trip.
According to the survey, cruisers are 70 percent more likely to use a travel agent than non-cruising travelers. That means developing relationships with various travel agents could be key to reaching these customers.
Try contacting travel agents in your area about potentially working together. Consider using broader trade organizations—the American Society of Travel Agents in the United States and the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association—as resources to find travel agents near you.