Online can be a daunting space for Travel Agents, but it doesn’t have to be. TravelManagers’ Annalize Troost says it’s easy to conquer the digital world with consistency, expertise & a few great images.

KARRYON recently caught up with the Personal Travel Manager who’s been using social media for over five years to boost cruise sales.

She told us that in today’s digital world, it’s difficult to sell anything without the help of social media, which is why she’s been committed to regularly updating her professional Facebook page and establishing herself on Instagram.

“Cruising is not tangible, you have to imagine it,” she said when explaining how social media pages help draw in clients, new and old, by touching on their visual desires.

Read on for more of our chat with Annalize and for tips on how to build your own online presence:

 

When did you realise cruise was a sector of travel worth investing in?

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When doing my Cruisemasters certification on Quantum of the Seas, I realised that there was a huge market for Agents to specialise in knowing the various cruise products and finding the right cruise for the right passenger.

 

How did you go about marketing cruising to your clients initially? And when did you start using social media to target potential cruisers?

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I started talking cruising and taking all types of cruises myself to learn the product and compare. Doing ship inspections as many as I could get onto. Posting my cruising and ship inspections on Facebook and Instagram.

I found out where “bring client presentations” were held and took my clients. I made sure I followed up and always mentioned “a cruise for everyone”.

A cruise should be tailored to your client so you know the destination and onboard offering will suit them. Price comes last when I talk – comfort and experience come first.

 

Which of the types of posts do users tend to respond to most?

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The public wants to see what the ship looks like inside – the cabins, the lounges, the pool and entertainment. They want to imagine themselves on a cruise.

They want to see the destinations you can travel to and places not as accessible by road or by plane like Antarctica, the Kimberley, Galapagos, the Mekong – the list is endless.

So when posting I try to show more of the ‘WOW’ factor stuff such as s cruise ship in the middle of the icebergs and me on land with a penguin looking on, the view in the Fjords of Norway, a grand dining room or a cocktail at sunset.

 

Since turning to social media, how have your cruise sales increased?

I have always used Facebook but started using Instagram about two years ago, as this is more targeted and visual.

Social media is not a quick marketing tool for selling bespoke holidays but consistent marketing ensures they will trust me and see that I don’t only sell one cruise product. They see I am learning and experiencing different products and, therefore, I become known as the Agent who “knows everything about cruising”.

Once this happened I started getting more and more bookings from existing clients and their friends.

You always start with one cruise booking and when your client is happy and trusts you, you could end up booking a group of friends and that group then turns into more referrals and more groups.

However, never stop the social media and subtly engage your existing clients in your posts (e.g. when I have clients going to Alaska – a few weeks before I start raving about the destination, post all the wonderful things to see and do, show the ship they are travelling on and the meals they will have etc.).

 

Do you think you’d have been able to sell as many cruises without the help of social media?

No, I don’t think in today’s world we can sell anything without social media. Cruising is not tangible, you have to imagine it. You can’t walk into the shop and touch it, feel it. You, therefore, need a visionary experience, see yourself on board.  See yourself when cruising into Glacier Bay, standing on the deck in Norway and watching the night sky light up with and realize this is the Northern lights.

 

What advice would you give to a Travel Agent looking to use social media to boost cruise sales?

Be consistent. The public wants to know what is happening in the cruise industry – show new ships, show what is done to keep the oceans clean.

Immerse your audience in the destination and product. Know your products and do not recommend one product over another online.

All products have a client and you want all of them. It is your opportunity to show your expertise in the variety you offer. Once you know more about your client you can do the selling.

Be patient even the non-cruisers will all cruise one day.

The cruise lines have wonderful photos and marketing tiles. Get permission to use them.

 

How do you use social media to sell cruises?