Going about the business of pricing a cruise seems to be done almost as many ways as there are travelers booking sometimes. In the past, some buyers would click-to-buy, others would use a travel agent, and all had different considerations when making a buying decision. Regardless of how we went about it, when all was said and done, we had a cruise booked and could look forward to a fabulous vacation. Today, the way we go about booking is changing and those stuck in the past might very well be missing out on some of the best values available.
“Consumers today are much more sensitive to price, given the economic climate. It’s natural for consumers to keep a watchful eye on their budgets during recessionary times,” Dwain Wall, Senior Vice President and General Manager of CruiseOne told me in a recent interview.
A lot of what goes into cruise line pricing strategy is based on demand and demand almost always changes over time. There are a number of factors at work here including ship positioning, the economy, the effect of new ships just entering the marketplace on the sales of older ships, and more.
Consider the price at the time of booking simply the starting price and use a travel agent to keep an eye on it.
When cruise lines were very similar, it was simply a matter of choosing a sailing that worked with our travel window and an itinerary we liked. Buying online was arguably a viable option for booking. Now, with dynamic pricing strategies, differentiated onboard programming that varies widely from line to line and many more options, booking on line is becoming more difficult all the time.
Now is the time to take another look at what cruise lines are actually offering right now vs. what your long-held beliefs are about what is happening on their ships.
In the olden days, travel agents tried to be everything to everyone, selling any type of travel product. Most of them went broke. Today, more and more agents are becoming specialists in just cruise vacations and even specific cruise lines. That laser-sharp focus has brought better pricing, a better booking experience that often includes bonus amenities and almost always equals a better value.
Ask your travel agent what they specialize in. If they don’t say “cruises”, don’t buy from them.
Loyalty often does little more than make us feel good. That goes for travel agents as well as cruise lines. There should be no doubt in your mind about the value your travel agent adds. The same goes for cruise lines and their loyalty programs. Continuing to book with the same cruise line because some day we will get free laundry service is a horrible buying strategy. If that loyalty blinds us from other offers that may have better value, we could easily lose savings far greater than the cost savings realized by a few loads of laundry.
Speaking about cruise line loyalty programs, Wall notes “as loyal cruisers look to broaden and diversify their travel experiences, even they are more open now to enticing offers from competing cruise lines.”
This article is brought to by Cruise Compete. CruiseCompete.com allows you to easily compare multiple offers from Cruise Experts.