In the cruise industry, the FCC, or future cruise credit, was among the buzzwords of 2020. Well into the second half of 2021, the FCC is no less buzzworthy.
In fact, with cruise travel starting again from U.S. ports, executives from both cruise lines and travel agencies are imploring advisors to prioritize rebooking of the FCCs they generated for their clients.
FCCs aren't in the news much, since far fewer sailings are being canceled now than in 2020, and some cruise lines, notably the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings brands, have had stopped offering FCCs altogether.
But consider this: Royal Caribbean International alone has 1.7 million outstanding FCCs, Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean International's senior vice president of sales, trade support and service, said last week during a Coffee Talk webcast from CLIA's Cruise3Sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale.
"One-point-seven million FCCS!" she reiterated while chatting with Drew Daly, senior vice president of Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. "Travel partners, this is the lowest hanging fruit. Don't let your FCCs 'see you later'. Don't assume your client is going to call you. We want them to call you, but it's up to you to go reach out to them."
An FCC can be moved from agency to agency or between an agency and the cruise line itself. So, it's possible that an advisor who spent time and money to get a booking can lose it to a competitor or to the cruise line.
Daly agreed that advisors have to be proactive about FCCs.
"There is all this volume and all this demand," he said, adding that advisors must maintain and build client relationships to make sure that business stays with them.
"If you're not conversing, whether that's on social media, at a local event, then those customers are going to think you're not there," he said. "And then where are they going to go? People are going to do business where they think they can. So as long as they know you're available and you're there, they're going to reach out to you."
That connection, he said, is what will keep consumers using advisors even as so much of the world is falling under what Freed called the "Amazon effect." She asked Daly if he thought it would push more direct business.
Daly responded that there is no doubt that people want the convenience of being able to order things quickly and online to their doorstep. But "we all know cruising is more complex," he said. "Certainly, when you have 37 different room categories on the ship, you need to talk to someone that is an expert.
"When it comes to travel, it really comes back to the relationship and that personal connection," he added. "Without a doubt, my advice to everybody out there is how you maintain relevance in your communities, your neighborhoods, your backyards. You built the business one conversation at a time."