The Cruise Industry Trade Group (CLIA) found that over 28.2 million people worldwide took a cruise in 2018. Although it is only 4% of the whole traveling audience, it grew by 5% since 2017 and by 10% since 2016. If you want a piece of this, read on to learn how make money on cruise line bookings.
The cruise niche isn’t new to the offline travel market – there are plenty of agencies that offer cruises. Online, however, is a different story. This market is young, which is the first reason you should be interested in online cruise bookings.
People want to find the best ship, the roomiest cabin with the best views, various entertainment offerings, etc.They are eager to find additional promotions and booking online is the fastest way to find what they want.
Cruise lines need both travel agents and webmasters to source clients. They are willing to share the income, offer special promotions and bonuses, and sometimes, reduce the price.
Here’s some benefits to working in this niche:
- Work for yourself
- Book cruises for groups and individuals in a work-from-home setting
- Earn commission for each customer
- Join a cruise affiliate program in couple of clicks and start selling through your own website, instead of becoming a registered travel agent or cooperating with a host agency to get commissions.
Today, many cruise ads, offers, and overviews are available both on and offline. Beginners and avid travelers alike can get lost in this information and feel overwhelmed by all the contradictory reviews. Here’s how you can bring yours to light.
- Create an eye-catching website with attractive offers
- Fill your site with accurate content and update it regularly)
- Develop a marketing strategy
- Arrange for an offline office in case of direct sales
Customers searching for cruise deals need help, and that’s where you can step in and save the day. It isn’t enough to just place a search form on your website, you’ll need to get interactive. Answer questions, help them find the best offer and make sure to help resolve any issues that arise. Group cruises are unique in that you need to manage the preferences of every person in the group, which can be a lot of work.
However, it’s worth it, especially when it’s a group cruise. Thanks to the bill average being high, you will earn a lot from the sale.
How to make money by booking cruises
“How much do booking agents make and how much can I make?” There is no straightforward answer, but certain strategies and marketing tools exist to make your life easier.
This business model utilizes traffic arbitrage, allowing you to buy cheap traffic and raise money through the cruise line sales on your website or offline office. Contextual advertising is possible even without your own website or office. Some cruise affiliate programs allow you to direct traffic to their official web pages or landing pages.
Another option is to get the user to click on the banner or buy something on which you’ll earn revenue. It’s a good way to monetize paid search results, but only if that traffic is simultaneously targeted and cheap.
Contextual advertising is the best “fishing hole” to buy high-quality traffic at a low price. You can use Google Ads or alternatively use PPC contextual advisement networks to gain traffic for your project. Learn more about web traffic arbitrage on this page.
Selling cruises directly
Direct cruise sales are difficult, but still in demand. According to statistics of the Cruise Line Industry Association, only 10% of cruises are sold online without direct communication. Additionally, the bulk are group cruise packages that are less expensive than individual ones.
Nevertheless, plenty of large, successful offline travel agencies have their own online resources – business cards or advertising sites – but they are intended to attract visitors and to convert them into leads. The main goal of those websites is to motivate the visitor to make a call or to come to their office.They usually create landing pages to promote a new cruise or special offer.
Offline agencies are becoming history. In 2019, more and more people prefer to search the travel services on the Internet. People compare different agencies and cruise line offers to make the most profitable choice and, in your case,you may not be nearby to sell them on your uniqueness. You couldn’t compare offers so quickly and easily, like you can online. Use this advantage to sell more!
You don’t need an offline office to start direct selling. However, If online sales still don’t represent the biggest portion, then it, would be better to have both offline office and online resource to start. It would help you to cover the entire range of clients.
Dozens of cruise lines invite affiliates to take part in their affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing is the easiest way to make money in this niche. Just place your affiliate link on your blog or share the link on Facebook and earn on every cruise sold.
This is the most attractive method because you don’t need to go into an office to communicate with clients directly and your seed capital is confined to the cost of the development of your site or travel blog. Moreover, you can rely on the advertiser’s webpage instead of being deeply involved in the industry.
You don’t want to solely focus only on cruises. You can offer insurance or even products that customers will need for their cruise from Aliexpress or eBay. Travel insurance is in high demands, since many people are fearful to travel by sea due to the inherent risk. You have potential to earn from the same customer multiple times by selling these extra goods and services.
Join the HopaYacht affiliate program in Travelpayouts affiliate network and earn 50% of the HopaYacht’s income. The average 50% revenue share per booking according to cruise type:
- Cabin charter – 300 Euro;
- Bareboat – 350 Euro;
- Full Vessel – 1,700 Euro.
How much you can make as an affiliate
The income of travel agent can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. The average webmaster can earn around $500 to $1000 per month. The actual income depends entirely on how much you sell.
Cruises are often much more expensive than flights, and affiliate rewards are usually higher than in the flight ticket niche. For example, flight tickets generally cost less than $500, and cruises usually cost more than $1,000. Affiliate rewards for a flight ticket is around 1.6% and more than 3% for booking a cruise.
This reinforces why the cruise niche is often more profitable than flight sales or other travel niches.
Where to find traffic
Whether you have a blog or landing page, you need traffic to source your customers. That’s why your first task is to attract leads and achieve high conversion rates. To do so, you will need a full set of marketing tools to develop an efficient strategy where PPC, SEO, newsletters and social media are all engaged.
Search Engine Optimization is a tool that helps generate leads from search engines by placing your site as high as possible in the SERP using cruise line-related keywords. More than 60% of travelers start their booking process using Google or other search engine giants like booking.com, airbnb.com or tripadvisor.com.
SEO is more cost effective than PPC, but it works much slower. You’ll get your first results in three to five months, assuming correct SEO-optimization is being employed. However, SEO is a long-term investment because it works for a period of time, even when you stop writing new content.
This tool includes:
- Technical SEO (site speed, mobile friendless, sitemaps, etc.)
- Local SEO
- Homepage SEO
- SEO for categories and TAG pages (in case you have multipage resources)
- Landing page SEO (for unique and informative titles, page content, user reviews and rich snippets, etc.)
Link building and blogging is a meaningful part of SEO as well.
Facebook and other social media platforms
Don’t forget to introduce your business on social media while selling cruises online. Most of your potential customers spend an impressive amount of time there for both entertainment and for information gathering purposes. Cruises are the visual sub-niche and that’s why some of your leads are for sure on Instagram and Pinterest. People like to use Facebook to look through their agent’s profile before booking. Alternatively, they read news and announcements on Twitter.
Social platforms open great opportunities for travel agents, bloggers and affiliates. Here’s a list of the latest trends:
- Live videos through Instagram Live, Facebook Live and live streaming on Twitch and YouTube.
- Instagram stories and posts.
- Targeting and retargeting via Facebook.
- Creating and publishing interesting, appealing and engaging content.
- Influencer marketing.
- Chat bots through Facebook Messenger.
The impact of social media on travel inspiration is invaluable, because travelers no longer rely on formal guide books written by “experts” with outdated information. The potential customer of today wants to compare and discuss using real reviews and opinions.
Here’s how you can «steal» a competitor’s audience; we’ve prepared the guide on how to do it.
This tool is on top due to its cost-effective nature and high demand among travelers. Vlogging or blogging can start as your hobby and become your online career. It allows you to build a relationship with the travelers and becoming a real authority in the travel niche, instead of simply advertising for cruise lines. As a result, visitors will trust and listen to you.
There is a difference between blogging and vlogging. Blogs include text-based content, while vlogs feature videos.You can place articles, photos and videos in your travel blog, but you should develop separate resources if you are solely uploading videos.
Booking cruises isn’t the only way to make money. Learn how YouTube vloggers make money on videos.
To make email marketing work, you should have your own list of frequent travelers and keep their habits and preferences in mind.
You should place a contact form or a welcome popup form on your landing page, site or blog and collect subscribers to send them personal offers or promotions with the that may be of interest to them. Note that you can place a subscription form inside your articles or posts.
We’ve already described in detail how to use email marketing strategies within the travel niche here.
Advertising networks are helpful for monetizing content and generating revenue. You should find advertisers willing to place your ads on their websites. There are many web-based ad platforms that work as mediators between publishers and an advertisers.
These networks help sell inventory that is traditionally difficult to sell directly because of the high price point and competition in this niche.The price for the ads is lower than what Google Ads offers, but the conversion rates may be lower too. However, you can outline a narrow target audience to focus your ads on and use those networks to increase sales.
How much you can earn through cruise bookings
Agents and affiliates earn commission on cruise sales. It depends greatly on the affiliate program requirements and may vary from 3% up to 16%. The percentage will depend on:
- Cruise line policies and stipulations
- Sales growth
- The destination and the country the agent is selling from
- Type of cruise – whether it is a package, personal, budget or VIP
- The number of additional services the customer has ordered
- Specific agreements between the agent and the company
The cruise planners income is defined by their own ingenuity, diligence and knowledge of the cruise niche. The best affiliates use all possible sources of information – cruise line sales representatives, brochures and prospects, executives and the cruise lines’ sites. They may even decide to take trainings, courses and consultations.
You should pay attention to your reputation and image you are building. Cruises are relatively expensive to buy them online, which is why your customer must trust you and feel relaxed while making purchase online for more than $1,000.
Tips & tricks for making money booking cruises
The best way to make money through booking cruises depends on your marketing strategy and tools. For example, if you’re a vlogger, you should adopt tips on how to create and attract traffic or increase the conversion of your vlog. You’ll find a consolidated list of the most effective tricks here:
- Choose the right affiliate program with loyalty requirements
- Develop a highly efficient website (create, optimize and improve it constantly)
- Focus on a specific cruise destination while starting out and base your keywords on those directions
- Highlight your content by adding exclusive and limited-time offers
- Provide value-added offers (complimentary bottle of wine, free dinner, etc.)
- Use social media for traffic, awareness and conversion
- Use vendor videos on YouTube to highlight a destination or product
- Create a free offer, lead-magnet and tripwire
The key ingredient for success is to immerse yourself in the cruise niche completely. Always be well informed about the cruise lines’ latest updates and offers. In that case, you can start making money on cruise lines without the thousand-dollar budget minimum.