Kallie Biggs of American Cruise Lines advised agents to sell the value of a luxury product instead of listing the amenities offered.
Kallie Biggs of American Cruise Lines advised agents to sell the value of a luxury product instead of listing the amenities offered. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Product education is the key to selling luxury travel, according to a panel of suppliers at CruiseWorld here.

"Education is one of the most important parts to selling luxury, and that can be a lot of different things," ranging from online training to actually experiencing a product, according to Kallie Biggs, a specialist in sales, marketing and business development at American Cruise Lines.

"Part of selling luxury is going, aha, I get it now, I understand why someone would spend ... exponential amounts more money than maybe the mass-market cruise that they know about," she said.

Education is also the best way agents can experience products, according to Mark Conroy, managing director of the Americas for Silversea Cruises.

"The challenge we face ... is we've got companies with limited capacity," he said.

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Agents who can educate themselves about a product and make a few sales will be on a supplier's radar, though, and will have a better chance of being offered an opportunity to experience the product in person, he said.

The other panelists -- Shannan Brennan, Le Boat's head of distribution and marketing in the U.S., Canada and Latin America; Jennifer Collins, business development manager at Tauck World Discovery; and Scott Harner, business development manager at International Expeditions -- agreed that education is key, and encouraged agents to participate in whatever education they could, whether it's in the form of a webinar, an online training course or something else entirely.

"I think, too, a lot of you are probably independent contractors or home-based, and it's hard for you to always see a sales rep," said moderator Ginny Mariano, an agent with Avanti World Travel. "So you really should take it upon yourself to do these webinars, to reach out to the sales reps, because they're really supportive, I've found."

Mark Conroy of Silversea Cruises said, "It's more about value and life and experience than it is about what it actually costs."
Mark Conroy of Silversea Cruises said, "It's more about value and life and experience than it is about what it actually costs." Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

The panel also addressed selling luxury based on value, not on price.

Biggs advised agents to sell the value of a luxury product instead of listing the amenities offered.

"You get someone who's focusing on your client's needs to a ridiculous level and that is not something that you can quantify," she said. "It's not something that you can list in amenities.

Large staterooms, elegant atmospheres, locally sourced and inspired cuisine -- all of these things are true, and they are going to be adding to the value, but ... that's not going to close the sale for you. It's really explaining that it's not as much about amenities, it's not that the boats have this, this, this and this, it's about the experience, and the only way you can do that is education -- the only way you can know what those things are is education."

Conroy agreed, saying, "It's more about value and life and experience than it is about what it actually costs."

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