Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fresh thinking needed for solo cruisers!

Note: this is an edited version of my original post yesterday

I just had some instantaneous feedback on a tweet I made during #CruiseChat today...
A8. #CruiseChat fresh thinking on single supplements! Cruiselines have NO IDEA how upset travellers are to be told 200%. Innovate people!:)
... and I was inspired to rant a little.

Feet Wings
The kind of cruise selfie most solo cruisers resort to
creativecommons image donnieray on Flickr
It is SO true. I can't think of anything more frustrating that answering a potential cruiser's question about the cruise fare if they sail solo. If they haven't cruised before, they are shocked, say disparaging things about the cruiselines (yes, I hear things these things from even nice little old ladies!!), and - guess what - no matter how hard I work to explain single supplement policies, the cruiseline always comes out losing. We all look bad in the consumer's eyes.

Yes, explaining that "sometimes" there are reductions helps, but I can't tell them how or when those happen. And I add another name to my long list of people who want to be notified when there are waived or reduced offers....

But that doesn't really cut it. Already, the passenger has a bad taste in their mouth, and is disappointed. Hugely disappointed.

Yes, solo cabins make a difference, a BIG difference. In fact, they are one of the two things the cruise industry must do to win the trust of solo travelers.

The other is FRESH THINKING on single supplements.

FRESH THINKING on the value of solo travellers.

The solo cruiser is tired of being an afterthought, accommodated only when sailings are selling slow, or booking at the very last minute on the hope of a dream of a flash sale so low they can book by paying double of a cheap price.

What about the solo cruiser who wants to plan their dream vacation? What about the solo cruiser who isn't comfortable waiting until the last minute on the off-chance that there will be a bargain going to somewhere they want? What about the solo cruiser who knows that those last minute deals aren't really deals if you have to buy last-minute air to get there?

Cruising down the Tracy Arm Fjord
Everyone likes a window at sea
creativecommons image crdunn on Flickr
What about the solo cruiser who wants even a porthole to look out of, but is not able to justify booking more than an inside cabin? What about how doubly important one's stateroom is when one is cruising solo, and that a small windowless room just doesn't cut it? What about the solo cruiser who has cruised before with a friend, family member or spouse with the ease of a balcony, and now wants the same pleasure solo?

Do cruiselines even "get it" that sometimes the solo cruiser is one part of a couple that likes to travel alone on occasion? That the solo cruiser might travel at other times with friends, but also wants to travel alone, versus waiting around for a friend with the same interests and vacation time? That the solo cruiser may also be the one organizing a family reunion and might consider doing it on cruise if they weren't so put off by single-supplements?

I mean it when I say that cruiselines have NO IDEA how offended people are by these policies.

I am personally waiting for one executive at the top of a major cruiseline to have the light bulb go off on their mind, and turn the industry on its head over antiquated, unfriendly and off-putting single supplement policies.

Just in case you need some fresh thinking.....

room with a view
The delight of capturing a balcony selfie
creativecommons image djs1021 on Flickr
What about offering an incentive to solo cruisers to book early? What about waiving single supplements for a promotional period when sailings first come out?

What about reducing the single supplement, say, to 125% if you book year in advance?

What about varying the single supplement on "less-desirable" cabin types? What if there were no single supplements on obstructed view staterooms?

What about waiving the single supplement for 10% of cabins booked in a group?

What about ..... well, you get the idea.

Is anyone listening?

I look forward to the day when I am not embarrassed to explain the dismal reality of cruising to a new solo cruiser sitting across my desk.

I look forward to the day when I can engage with the solo cruiser, share in their excitement of their travel dreams, spend my time asking questions to learn more about their travel style and interests, so I can help them pick the cruiseline that is the best fit for them?

Silver Cloud Elevator and Me
The fun of seizing opportunitues to capture solo selfies at sea
creativecommons image joshfriedmantravel on Flickr
I look forward to the day when I no longer have to present a cruiseline that would otherwise be the wrong fit for a client as the only affordable option. Or presenting an itinerary that doesn't hit the mark, as there are so few that are open to them.

I look forward to the day that I can simply be compassionate when I have a widow or widower telling me about how they loved cruising with their spouse and want to continue that spirit by sailing the cruise itinerary they still had on their bucketlist? I look forward to help that long time loyal cruise customer find a balcony they love, just like the one they enjoyed when they were a couple, and facilitate healing?

I look forward to feeling proud of how the cruise industry takes care of all its guests, treating them all with equal respect, and helping them all take the cruise vacation of their dreams.

I look forward to the day when someone, anyone, with the power to make change in this industry, decides to break the mold.

FRESH THINKING. That's all it is.

~end of rant ~

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