Katie McGonagle explains how to capitalise on wave season opportunities
Selling 2024 cruise holidays? Wave season is the time to target new and existing customers with peak promotions. Katie McGonagle explains everything agents need to know to capitalise on this profitable peak sales period.
What is wave season?
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.
When is wave season?
For most cruise lines, it runs from January to February or March, but in recent years some cruise lines, such as Virgin Voyages, have put out deals as early as December, picking up on the post-Black Friday buzz. Look out for announcements from cruise lines and read the small print regarding specific terms and closing dates as these vary widely.
What kind of deals are on offer?
Wave deals include substantial discounts on 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 cabin category, free drinks packages, credit to spend on board, complimentary Wi-Fi, shore excursions or free speciality dining.
How can agents prepare for wave season?
By the time January comes, make sure you’re up to date on the latest cruise line training programmes and new products. Also ensure you're signed up to the cruise lines’ trade portals, so you can be first to hear about their wave deals.
3 Top tips for boosting wave sales
1. 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 If you need to expand your reach or renew out-of-date contacts, consider running a competition now to capture fresh client data, or a social media promotion to improve your following on key platforms, so your wave season promotions reach the right people.
2. Apply 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 time focusing on sales.
3. 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 2025 or 2026.