Perhaps the single most over-used business cliché is; “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Over-used or not, it is critically true. August is an ideal time to thoughtfully develop marketing and promotional plans for cruises 18 months into the future.
Of course, much of the planning depends on several factors:
Purchase spend patterns
All of this truly depends of what you sell the most; your “bread & butter”. Obviously, numerous agency organizations focus on mainstream destinations; Caribbean, Alaska, Mexican Riviera, etc. which represent almost 50% of cruise passengers. I also know agents who thrive on premium and luxury clients and worldwide destination itineraries, but still have fringe sales of mainstream products since these clients may also want these products as well for getaways and trips with family and friends.
Here is a review of products and planning cycles for sales opportunities over the next 18 months:
There are 2 prominent opportunities:
May-Oct can and has been be the most significant profit period for lines as reflected by the significant deployment throughout the Med, Baltic and Alaska. More lines are operating in all these regions and deploying new and bigger ships.
The exotic seasons are focused based on seasonality and weather:
Since the dramatic increase of both parents working and/or single parent households several decades ago, family travel has taken on more meaning. The desire to plan an interesting, fun and possibly educational vacation with children has been enhanced by the guilt parents feel for work being so critical.
The key point is; whether you have just a few key target audiences or wide array, it is valuable to plan out your promotional marketing for the key sailing seasons well in advance. Once you have organized this plan you can augment with whatever value opportunities the cruise lines provide. And remember to assign sales targets for each market and destination so that you can calculate if your plan is working or if it needs adjusting. That is the true value of planning ahead, so that you can succeed.