Even if your shore excursion provides tourists with an incredible experience and outstanding customer service, it might not mean a lot if no one knows about your tour. If you are looking to grow your excursion business, getting the cruise lines to know you exist is key. Being listed as one of their available excursions makes you visible to thousands of tourists and crew members every time a ship comes in to port. How do you get their attention, gain their business, and transform your reputable business into a booming one?
1. Make Yourself So Visible They Can’t Miss You
Establish yourself as a major player in your locale. This may require building your reputation with general tourists before being able to tap into the cruise line market. Two ways to do this are differentiating yourself and establishing a social media presence.
What makes you different? You may run a wildlife watching tour at a major nature reserve, but so do five other tour companies. You could make your experience notable and different by adding an authentic-to-your-area lunch cooked by locals, or hosting overnight tours to observe nocturnal animals when the ships have consecutive port days.
Once you’ve established what makes you different, market it. One of the best ways to market to tourists planning their trips is to be present on-line. The current mother of all online marketing for shore excursions and tours is TripAdvisor. Set up a page with photos, your contact information, and website. Then encourage your satisfied tour-goers to share their positive experiences on the website. Being a popular destination for your area on TripAdvisor will bring in not only customers who are looking for your particular type of tour, but also others who are aimlessly trying to explore what the area has to offer. The goal is to make you what your area has to offer.
Establishing accounts on Facebook and Twitter is also a good idea. Keep these accounts current with new information about your company, experiences from your recent tours, and new information from your area and industry at large. Interact with those that follow you, like you, tweet you, and comment. The goal isn’t to have a social media profile page; the goal is to build a community that loves their online experience so much, they can’t wait to experience your excursion.
2. Join a Cruise Industry Association
After you’ve established a growing reputation with general tourists, you can start to break into the cruise line industry. An online presence is good, but perhaps the best way to gain their business is to meet the people making decisions, have them like you, and have them like your product. Networking can leave a memorable impression, and depending on what they are looking for at that exact moment, can lead to instantaneous or future business as they have opportunities crop up.
A good way to get in front of the cruise lines is to join a cruise industry association. There is seemingly a separate organization for everywhere a ship could port: the Gulf of Mexico is covered by the FCCA, the larger part of the United States has CLIA, Brazil is covered by Abremar, and European destinations can look to the ECC.
These organizations have meetings at least once a year. As a member, you’re invited. You can brush shoulders and conversate with people who make decisions, touting your history of customer satisfaction and TripAdvisor awards. Many of these organizations also offer trainings for you and your employees, in addition to keeping you abreast of all of the current news in the industry.
3. Make It Easy for Cruise Lines to Work With You
Just because you have a great shore excursion doesn’t mean you will have cruise lines banging on your door to add your excursion to their menu of options for cruise line passengers. With the safety of passengers and protecting themselves against lawsuits at the top of their list of priorities, cruise lines require that the tours that they promote are covered by excursion insurance. Working exclusively with excursions that have excursion insurance helps reduce any liability arising from passengers participating in shore excursions.
Getting noticed by the cruise lines may take some work and possibly some additional insurance, but the additional revenue stream will pay off in dividends.
If you have questions about getting insurance for your specific excursion, feel free to contact us or click on the button below and get a quote.