Ready to pick a demographic most likely to cruise? The millennial market is the winner, and veteran agents say they are worth tapping into for their repeat and referral business, too.
According to ASTA's How America Travels survey, which was released earlier this month and was based on an online study of 1,522 Americans, nearly half (47%) of millennial respondents (ages 25-39) have been on a cruise, and 32% of respondents have cruised within the past five years.
Comparatively, 39% of Generation Xers (ages 40-51) and baby boomers (ages 52-70) have cruised; 20% of Gen Xers and only 18% of boomers have cruised in the past five years.
Millennial travelers were also most likely to enjoy cruising, with 61% of millennial cruisers saying they "strongly like it" and another 29% saying they "somewhat like it."
Senior cruise expert Debra Dickerson and travel adviser Vickie Grysen of the Spring Lake, Mich.-based Cruise & Travel Experts, both have millennial clients. That group in particular has been valuable in terms of their propensity to repeat with their advisers, as well refer friends, they said.
Dickerson said she believed part of the reason millennials enjoy cruising is because it's a cost-effective way of traveling.
"It's an easy way to get around and see a lot in a short amount of time," she said. "They're going because it's an affordable way to travel and hang out by the pool and do nothing, or go lay on the beach, or go snorkeling or go diving." It doesn't hurt that meals are included in the price.
The Caribbean, Europe and even Alaska are popular destinations for Dickerson's millennial cruisers. Grysen said her millennial cruisers tend to gravitate toward Europe and the Caribbean, and they like the larger, newer, activity-packed ships on which they can capture photos and videos to share on social media.
Millennials have previously been cited as the generational group most likely to use a travel agent.
Investing in millennial clients when they are young can be a valuable thing for agents. Contemporary cruise lines tend to be the most popular among millennials, but that changes as they age, according to Dickerson. "As they're getting older, like up into their 40s and closer to 50, a lot of them have moved into a little bit more of the luxury market," she said.
That move, of course, comes with a bump in commission.
Grysen advised other agents to invest their time in their social media presence, where millennials spend time.
Dickerson said it comes down to asking the right questions and getting a millennial cruiser on the product that fits them best. "You want to make sure that you qualify the person really well and get them to trust you as an agent to direct them in the best possible way you can," she said.
"Because as long as you don't mess up or do anything wrong, you're going to be golden, and they're going to bring you more business than you know what to do with."