Why you should never “pigeonhole a client”

A pigeon emerging from it's hole in the walls of the Agra Fort in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Over 600 cruise industry keen beans fronted up to CLIA’s Cruise360 conference last week to hear the experts’ advice on selling cruise.

Cruising kingpin, Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, stressed to the agent-filled audience that pigeonholing was an industry sin.

“Don’t ever pigeonhole your client,” he urged agents. “Always requalify the client.”

Pimental recounted a story of a travel agent who booked her client on the same Carnival cruise every time because she loved it, until one day she met her in the supermarket, only to discover she’d booked her own cruise.

Realising she’d not booked with her agency, she asked what the client had booked. Her husband had recently passed away and her children encouraged her to book the luxury suite cruise she’d always dreamed of on another luxury cruise line.

Pimental’s message to agents off the back of this story was to “always requalify the client.

“You don’t know what’s changed in their life, so requalify them to see if you can ‘move up’ in products.

“Once they get a taste of the very best, the usually want to repeat it.”

Adding to this in a panel session, Chris Austin, the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing for Seabourn, said there’s always new possibilities with old clients.

“All of your clients could potentially be luxury clients,” he revealed.

Regent Seven Seas’ Vice President of Sales, Lisa Pile, added an essential tip for agents booking clients.

“Never underestimate a client’s budget unless they’ve specifically told you so,” Pile said.

“You’re storytellers, you need to create that dream and sell the story.

“People make decisions with their heart not their head – I call it emotional luxury.”

Monique Ponfoort, Vice President Asia Pacific, PONANT Yacht Cruises & Expeditions, said it’s all “about relationships”.

“The market is sitting in your hands. It’s about relationships, follow-ups, and buying experience.”

Austin added, “Find out the big anniversaries, birthdays – they may be six years away but you can sow the seed to sell that dream”.


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