If it’s spring, a cruise seller’s thoughts turn to … family vacations. That was the reminder from Vicki Freed, the senior vice president of sales trade support and services at Royal Caribbean International to a group of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. agents last week.

Freed was one of the speakers at a regional training session held near CruiseOne/Cruises Inc. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. There will be a half dozen others this year.

She told agents that spring is the prime time for people planning summer vacations, and that a smart agent takes advantage of that. It was a good reminder that cruise selling is a seasonal business and agents should be selling with the seasonal needs of travelers, not against them.

“These are the big months for summer Caribbean,” Freed said, as opposed to the fall months when travelers tend to plan longer, more expensive trips to places such as Alaska and Europe.

Royal’s summer promotion at this point is a good, old-fashioned markdown. The line is offering 30% off “every guest, every ship” in a sale good through April 3.

Freed said that the 30% off sale was a response to some agencies that said to just give them the lowest price. Royal responded, but Freed said, “We would prefer to offer a BOGO [buy one, get one] and an onboard credit.”

The BOGO idea has become popular because it allows for the fig leaf of an advertised price that is undiscounted, even though by applying the offer a full-fare passenger and a free passenger effectively pay half-price.

Along with the value-add, aka pick your perk, BOGO has become the promotion of choice throughout the industry. But promotions have a life cycle and it may be that the BOGO and the value-add, for all of their utility, may be reaching a plateau in terms of consumer excitement.

It will be interesting to see if any other cruise lines are going back to straight-line discounts for the summer of 2016.

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