Johanna Jainchill
Johanna Jainchill

In a time when people aren't cruising, and when booking any travel can be fraught with anxiety, panelists at CruiseWorld said advisors can encourage future bookings by stressing flexibility and their own willingness to get on a ship.

One of the resounding messages was the importance of understanding the flexible booking policies the cruise lines have in place.

"Top of mind for consumers and for your clients is flexibility," said Michelle Lardizabal, commercial sales officer for MSC Cruises USA. "We're seeing that rise to the top in terms of decision."

In a panel discussion with Katina Athanasiou, chief sales officer for Norwegian Cruise Line, Barbara Foster of New Hampshire-based Seas the Moments said that explaining cruise policies is key. But first, the advisor must be confident in anything they suggest clients do.  

"The most important thing is feeling confident yourself," she said. "My clients know I'm ready to get on a ship and I'm ready to travel."

She said it is important that clients not only know the advisor is unafraid "but also that you respect why they may be a little nervous about the proposition."

Flexible booking policies, the ability to cancel close to the sailing and refundable deposits, she said, are "so beneficial to us as travel advisors in our ability to induce confidence. It's a risk-free proposition."

She also reminds clients that they should book because "pricing will never be better -- it's a win-win all the way across the board."

Tawnee Sons of Cruise Planners, who specializes in groups said, "the cruise lines' policies make the conversations easier for us."

Sons has continued doing town halls with groups and their group leaders to answer their questions, explain the cruise line policies and discuss "why you should book now -- and plan ahead for the future."

"At the same time, we have to think, maybe some people aren't ready now, but let's get ready for when they are.

"Take out the space snow, look for the great promotions," she added. She said that when there is a good promotion she lets her clients know that "there will never be a better time. You have all the flexibility, all the great pricing; there is no downside for booking right now."

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