Who Are Our Core Customers?
Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owners are benefitting from the broadening cruising demographic
The image of a retired couple in Hawaiian shirts no longer represents the cruising culture, which has been broadening to include all demographics over the past several years. According to Cruise Lines International Association, which conducts continual analysis on the $42 billion cruising industry, more and more people of every age and from every walk of life are cruising at rates that reflect the significant growth the industry has been experiencing for decades.
According to CLIA, the average age of cruisers is 49, and their average income is $114,000. Generation X and Millennials, two generations that grew up in a cruising culture, are now old enough to book their own vacations and are showing a preference for cruises. According to CLIA, those ages 25 through 39 now make up 31% of the overall cruising market. Retirees are still actively cruising, making up 28% of the overall market. This multi-generational desire to cruise is something that our Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® franchise owners are experiencing at all of our 255 locations.
“While we do get a lot of people who have cruised before and a lot of retired people, what is exciting is that we getting more and more families who are discovering how fun it is to cruise together,” says Joyce Ripka, owner of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Quebec, Canada. “Our customers see the value in cruising, and they are willing to pay more to let us take charge. They want the good value and the good advice.”
Repeat customers are buying more cruises more often
While CLIA reported in 2014 that 38% of people who cruise are first-timers, 86% of all cruisers expressed the desire to cruise again. Once people have been on one cruise, they tend to book more expensive subsequent cruises — taking fuller advantage of excursions and other options to make their vacations more memorable.
“We have a lot of what we call ‘customers for life,’ ” says Jennifer White, co-owner of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “The Expedia® corporate training program has taught us how to create a system that will create customers for life from the first time we reach out to them to the time they get off the trip ready to plan the next one.”
Cruisers put a premium on expert guidance
Because cruises are expensive, customers want to ensure that enjoy every penny they are spending. That’s why they are eager to have experts they can talk to and learn from, and who can design travel plans that aren’t cookie-cutter. According to Cruise Lines International, 70% of cruises are sold by travel agents. Even in the age of the internet, planning a cruise can be too complicated and involved without a consultant to serve as a guide. The positive experience our Vacation Consultants give our customers is the reason our customers keep coming back to us to book their subsequent cruises.
“There is a whole group of people who have been cruising their whole life,” says John Mast, Vice President of Marketing for Expedia. “We are starting to look at the next generation of buyers that are coming up the ramp. Generation X’ers grew up cruising, as did Millennials — and they are starting to book their own vacations. It’s great to see that those trends are really strong. Another massive trend is the multi-generational cruises, where retirees are taking their children who, in turn, are taking their children. Baby Boomers, who are retiring at a rate of 10,000 people a day, are enjoying multi-generational cruises with the kids they took cruising years ago — who now can afford it on their own, which is great news for the future of the industry.”
Our travel agency business plan isn’t limited to booking cruises: we also help our clients book land vacations as well, which provides another revenue stream to benefit our franchise partners.
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