In today’s connected world, the truth is that the majority of consumers spend hours researching and planning their cruise vacation online using a variety of different devices before completing the transaction. A majority of today’s younger generation cruise passengers, commonly known as “Millennials”, will actually shop and complete their purchase online, while others may start their research online but defer to a travel agent or cruise line sales representative to complete the booking.
Clearly there is an opportunity to integrate consumer online research tools with the offline expertise of a professional travel agent. With mobile devices enabling consumers to be online anywhere at any time, today’s travel companies require technology that integrates online cruise research with both online and offline booking capability. Researching, planning and booking a cruise vacation is often a long process and frequently involves multiple online and offline steps. The need to merge consumer online and off-line shopping activity has made having online cruise booking software more critical than ever.
Online research may include interaction with a cruise line’s website, reading cruise line reviews or using social media to check with friends. When planning a cruise for example, many shoppers will seek advice from friends or family, visit a traditional travel agent, or call a cruise line directly. The challenge many travel professionals face is integrating a consumers online planning and research with the offline expertise of a traditional travel agent. One way to start working towards this goal would be the deployment of an online cruise booking tool. This may sound counter intuitive to those traditional agents who want remain relevant and keep cruise booking offline, but allowing the consumer to plan online with an agency’s cruise booking software may represent one of the most important ways to integrate online and offline activity.
Today’s cruise booking engine also needs to include a vast amount cruise line, cruise ship and cabin descriptions linked to media files & rich content such as cabin photos, ship images and deck plans to assist in the shopping process. Live access to Cruise Line content is important to be sure customers and agents alike are provided the most up to date availability and pricing. And for those consumers who prefer to use a Smart Phone or Tablet, any solution should be built using innovative responsive technology that automatically adjusts the layout of the display based on the type of device being used.
Cruise booking software must allow you to easily control business rules such as price adjustments, value add offers and targeted promotions. You’ll need the flexibility to control your business rules a variety of ways, so here is where you need be sure the application has the flexibility you need. Price adjustments should be easy to define with the ability to define filters for a specific cruise line, ship or cabin class. With cruise fares and availability changing so frequently it can be impossible for the most experienced travel agent to keep up with the latest deals. A flexible and easy to use Business Rules feature can help them manage.
Finding cruise booking software that has the functionality and content you need is an important decision for your business. Finding the right technology partner to assist you in reaching your customers where they shop can be even more important.