“Future cruise credit (FCCs) are what we call the golden tickets,” said Vicky Garcia, co-owner and COO of Cruise Planners.
Garcia shared her enthusiasm about FCCs time and time again at the American Express Travel Representative’s annual forum for 2020. At the convention, several cruise line executives also referred to FCCs as low-hanging fruit—so quite simply, travel advisors should be targeting clients with credits first and foremost.
How exactly can agents best take advantage of these lucrative FCCs?
“Cruise Planners has been great at capturing this opportunity for us,” said Adam Martindale, luxury cruise and river cruise specialist and owner of a CP franchise in San Diego, California. “They have worked directly with suppliers to get rosters of clients who qualify for an FCC, and we get access to this database through our internal CRM (customer relationship management).”
Marketing materials from Cruise Planners are sent to prospective customers, and then it’s up to advisors to check in with them to rebook.
“Clients feel like they are getting a lot more bang for their buck by rebooking than just cashing out,” Martindale said.
Diedre Bloom, owner of Travelers Trails, a member of Avoya Network, also emphasises the importance of tracking and following up with clients who are holding onto FCCs.
“I contact them every couple of weeks to chat and remind them,” she said.
Helping consumers recognise uncertainties is particularly crucial right now. Even if a cruise has not been cancelled, Martindale believes it is important to convey the likelihood of itinerary changes.
“By being proactive instead of reactive, clients feel like they are more in control and have a great ally by their side to navigate changes,” he said.
In fact, sometimes knowing the exact value of an FCC can make all the difference in applying it successfully.
“I contact the client to confirm the amount of the FCC they are being provided,” said Chuck Conine, owner of Travel with Charley, a member of Avoya. “It’s been a great way to suggest rebooking.”
Many of Martindale’s clients are taking advantage of FCCs to upgrade to penthouses on Oceania Cruises or suites on other cruise lines.
“Customers feel they have really been shorted the opportunity for a vacation in 2020,” he said. “Many cruise lines have cancelled through April now, so I’ve had to push back some of my clients’ reservations to later dates.”
As a result, FCCs are being utilised for the second half of 2021 and into 2022. Bloom is seeing others pushed back even to 2023.
“Customers are hesitant to book until they have had the vaccine,” she said.
And it’s not always about sticking with the exact sailing or original brand, according to Marc Weitzman, owner of A List Travel, also a member of Avoya.
“I have done some rebooking for passengers that want to do the same cruise next year, but I have also had passengers that booked a completely different cruise,” he said. “And some have changed cruise lines.”
Conine suggests asking customers for a range of dates that they are able to travel and possibly rebook for.
“I do this because of the fluid situation regarding when cruise lines will be restarting travel,” he said. “I recommend to clients that are considering a cruise prior to June 2021 to also allow me to quote them summer and fall dates; with more information for me and flexibility by the client, we are both more likely to be happy in the end.”
In either case, it’s best not to wait too long to apply client FCCs, as they are already depleting overall cruise availability in the near future.
“FCCs account for why ships have already filled up in 2021 and well into 2022,” Martindale said.
Source: TravelAge West