Niche Travel Sales Grow Commissions & Profitability

By Mitchell J. Schlesinger


Cruise Industry News recently released two reports; 2018 Annual Cruise Industry Report and 2019 Luxury Market report. Amidst pages and pages of data and statistics there are take-aways that are valuable for professional cruise sellers. 

From a standpoint of cruise travel by region, the Caribbean, Mediterranean/Europe and Alaska account for 66% of all cruise travel. This number is down very slightly due to the increase in “Asia/Pacific” which is skewed by the significant growth of cruising for the Chinese market in the past 3 years. 

While cruisers continue to flock to traditional destinations, the interesting threads from both reports is the increase in niche travel and dramatic growth in the luxury cruise market. The value for cruise sellers is simple; Presuming a high percentage of sales are to mainstay destinations, augmenting those with sales to higher price niche destinations and focus on niche markets can increase commissions and profitability.

“Niche” sales come in 2 variations:

DESTINATIONS; reaching remote destinations is growing significantly:

Galapagos there are over 30 ships that sail the inner and outer loops of the Galapagos. These include well known cruise lines (Celebrity, Silver Seas, Lindblad) and numerous tour companies. The Galapagos is a great niche destination because it offers year-round access and an array of target audiences including, families, eco & science-centric travelers, divers/snorkelers, plus bucket list cruisers. 

Arctic itineraries have also expanded and offer similar selling advantages to Galapagos. There are a litany of new ships in the market from Crystal, Silver Seas and a variety of tour and expedition companies.

Antarctica this is the shortest seasonal access, with sailings available primarily in December and January. While it is exciting and dramatic to see icebergs, guests clearly do not want to be stuck in one. Different sized ships offer varied access to landings and time ashore. 

Additionally, there are small ship “expedition” experiences in other familiar destinations including Alaska, east & west Mediterranean, and of course, the up-close-and-personal nature of river cruises around the world.

DEMOGRAPHICS; various demographic travel markets offer higher priced, profitable sales opportunities and while different by nature, they all require the same approach; these clients all must be comfortable that the experience they are looking for is met or exceeded by the cruise product they purchase.

Luxury the luxury market is literally going to double in the next couple of years with new entrants into the segment (Ritz Carlton, MSC, Viking), additional ships from existing luxury companies (Crystal, Seabourn, Regent, Silver Seas, Ponant, etc.) and enhanced opportunities available on mainstream companies. The mainstream opportunities are interesting. Under the concept of “Mass-exclusivity” it enables clients to combine a luxury experience on a mainstream ship with features not available on smaller luxury ships. This includes specially designed stateroom areas with courtyards, concierges, private dining plus advantageous arrangements in alternative restaurants, disembarkation at ports, private spa offerings, etc.

Families since the growth of two working parents’ family together time has become more important for parents feeling guilty about spending less time with their children. Families primarily look for a combination of destination enhancement, together and alone time. Family cruise travel is a wonderful way to enhance responsibility for children and the ability to share these experiences. And depending on ages, family cruises can be fun and informative from the Caribbean to Europe. 

Seniors/Retirees this is the demographic group with more time and money to travel. They plan well in advance and travel longer. They enjoy the combination of time on board and numerous port calls with interesting experiences ashore. Be very mindful that cruise options provided insure they will be comfortable with the food and entertainment offerings and that guests will be similar to them.

Take advantage of the developments of cruise industry expanding destinations, new ships and onboard features and add more niche sales to make your business more profitable.