How Do I Get Customers?
Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ strategies and tools help franchisees win business
According to Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that conducts continual analysis of the industry, cruisers spend more than $21 billion a year on their vacations. One of the major ways we help our franchisees succeed is by developing and executing strategic marketing campaigns to keep travelers engaged and informed.
Expedia® is a household name and a dominant brand in the travel industry. Our name is a powerful tool that gets us noticed by customers. Our marketing systems build upon that name recognition to drive customer engagement and turn “interested travelers” into repeat customers.
This is how we help franchisees grow their businesses:
Our marketing strategy builds customers for life
A franchisee must commit to between 18 and 24 months of branding in their community. For a new center, the primary job of the franchisee is to create awareness of the business and attract people. Our name and resources are a big help.
“We tend to get attention just by having a presence in the community,” says John Mast, Vice President of Marketing. “Franchisees are often able to get some early news coverage, because the media likes the story that an Internet giant like Expedia is opening a storefront.”
Everyone knows Expedia, so franchisees need to make sure potential customers and agents know about the Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® location in their community. That’s accomplished through a mix of strategic promotions, community involvement, and public relations. Our franchisees opt into a marketing program to send printed flyers developed by our corporate marketing team called Vacation Specials. This targeted promotional mailer is delivered into carefully selected households of likely customers. Thanks to our close relationships with cruise lines, we are able to deliver such marketing efforts for pennies on the dollar compared to what most businesses pay for custom printing and targeted mailing.
As franchisees start their business, their most important mission is to meet potential customers, find out if they are interested in travel, learn what types of travel and destinations they are intrigued by, and enter that information into CruiseDesk®, which contains a customer relationship management system that ties directly into our national marketing efforts. A tremendous amount of targeted marketing is conducted by Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ headquarters team.
How we use marketing strategies to increase your local sales
We use a strategy called permission marketing, where we send people personalized email newsletters on the behalf of local Expedia CruiseShipCenters owners that are specific to the client’s interests. When the client clicks on the email, they are directed back to their own Vacation Consultant’s website which shows their photo and contact information on every page. Even if a customer chooses to book their cruise through the website after clicking the email link, the booking and commission will always go back to that local Center and Consultant.
Cruises are not commodities, and people have a lot of questions before they book. Because it’s a large purchase, people also tend to do a lot of extra research. Not every cruise customer is the same. One may want to cruise the Caribbean and kick back with a rum cocktail. Another may want to cruise the Danube and spend part of each day exploring the great cities of Europe. An older couple traveling alone may prefer quiet sophistication, while a family with young kids may have a much better time cruising on a ship that has its own small waterpark. As a result of so many different cruising preferences, we need to provide customer-specific fliers and emails over and over again, with new details and updated information tied directly to their interests.
As cruising continues to expand into the mainstream, the image of cruisers as retired couples in Hawaiian shirts no longer defines the cruising demographic. According to CLIA, the average age of a cruiser is 49. Younger people are cruising in rapidly growing numbers, as people in their twenties and thirties who grew up cruising can finally afford to do it themselves.
“There is a whole group of people who have been cruising for their whole lives,” says John. “I know I want to take my kids on a cruise. It’s great to see demographic trends are really strong: middle-aged buyers are really coming in, as are Baby Boomers who take multigenerational cruises with their families. Now, the next generation that cruised as children can afford it on their own, which is great news for the future of the industry.”
Once people have booked to cruise, we start sending them a magazine — Dream Voyages — that is produced on behalf of our franchisees and lets customers know about ships, destinations, and special Expedia CruiseShipCenters promotions.
The tools mentioned above represent just a fraction of our marketing system. By combining these with other efforts, we help generate a steady stream of leads that you and your team can convert into clients.
Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters
For in-depth details about owning a business with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our franchise opportunity here.