By Emily Peters
Contributing Writer

We’ve been there: hours of work building an itinerary outfitted with everything the client asked for—only to find out they’ve got caviar taste on a tuna fish budget.

Selling cruises can be incredibly profitable, but difficult to upsell, particularly for those who have never cruised or booked with a travel professional before. To help, the gang at MTravel has put together a handy guide to upselling cruises to maximize your bottom line.

Do not rush the qualifying process.

Too many travel professionals limit the qualifying process to where/when/who. But upselling rests largely on uncovering the intimate details unique to your client’s travel style.

Ask them questions that reveal their pain points as well as their tastes. Identifying their frustrations (noise, crowded spaces, long lines, etc.) can be just as valuable as knowing what they love (gourmet desserts, live music, educational experiences, etc.)

Curate the ship experience along with the destination.

Every person on a sailing will be heading towards the same destination—but their onboard experience can vary greatly. As you learn what’s important to your client, draw the correlation between their desires and what the ship offers. Paint the picture in detail: “After an afternoon of running around the city, you’ll be able to retreat to your balcony stateroom with private butler service. Uncork a bottle of wine, enjoy some local treats, and relax privately with a view of the water as the village lights flicker on along the riverbed.”

Play up the conveniences and value-adds.

This takes some finesse (pushy is never a good idea in any sales profession), but pointing out conveniences can help upsell your client’s cruise. Without demeaning their current cabin choice, gently communicate some of the challenges to position the upsell. Let them know how a beverage package can eliminate fussing around with tipping, taxes or having to carry around extra cash. Are they toying with the idea of an inside cabin? Remind them that one of the unique purposes of cruising is to experience water travel—something that’s amplified enormously by an oceanview or balcony stateroom. Introduce the options and always tie them to a benefit. It will make their vacation less about wallet-watching and more about mental refreshment.

It’s not about you.

It’s critical to remember that, while there’s no shame in wanting to maximize a booking, it’s a mistake to minimize one, too. Upselling cruises is more about curating an adventure that’s RIGHT for your clients—not one that suits your own tastes or budget.

As a rule, avoid selling from your own pocketbook. Just because there may be excursions and upgrades you would pass on doesn’t mean your client will. Similarly, don’t upsell simply for the sake of upselling. Suggest upgrades and value-adds only when you’re confident they’ll result in a happier client. Why? Because happy clients = repeat customers and higher referrals.

Start slow.

Upselling becomes easier as your client and destination knowledge increase. If you’re new to the travel industry, start slow—a beverage package, a private transfer, a pre-night hotel stay. The more you practice, the more skilled you’ll become. Good upselling!

Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.