Cunard Suggestion Box Winner! – Clay Hawley
Courtesy of Cunard Line
Congratulations to Clay Hawley of The Cruise Web, Inc. in Landover, Maryland, who has won $500 with his submission for a sales strategy that works in the current economy. His entry emphasised the need to be creative and promote group sailings to target audiences. “Pick a theme both you and your clients enjoy on the finest liners in the ocean and the destination really becomes secondary,” he wrote in his submission.
“Groups are a key to the slower economy,” Hawley says. “I just tell my clients what I believe in – that the economy is not going to get any worse.” He suggests accentuating the high value of sailing in groups with like-minded people and the possibility of widening one’s social circle.
Hawley firmly believes that travel agents should create groups around topics that they themselves are interested in. Attempting to build a sailing that focuses on a hobby that the agent or outside “pied piper” is not personally invested in is obvious to the group and leads to lower morale. Plus, Hawley says, “it’s easy to promote groups with a common interest and easy to sell what you believe in.” His authenticity and ability to remain true to his own interests has helped Hawley to create multiple groups in the next year, including an annual cruise he organises for cigar enthusiasts, as well as a ballroom dancing group on an Iberian Odyssey voyage aboard Queen Mary 2.
Hawley has also been very successful in creatively marketing his groups. He recommends building a website separate from the agency’s site to promote a specific group sailing. From the website he launched for his cigar-appreciation group, Hawley has had thousands of hits which have subsequently increased his bookings.
A travel agent for just three years, Hawley praises his agency for putting the customer first and creating an enjoyable and fulfilling work environment. It is in this environment that he has been able to use the knowledge he has gained from Cunard Academy to secure bookings on group sailings. He especially appreciates the extensive information the Academy provides on the Cunard voyage experience. “Little details like the names of the night clubs onboard are very important in dealing with customers because your familiarity with the liners makes clients feel more comfortable with you as an agent.” The only drawback, Hawley admits, “is that I have a terrible memory and I can’t always remember every detail!”
Details or not, Hawley’s ideas for promoting groups have proved successful. Congratulations again to our winner!