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Cruise Incentive Programs Give Dealers a Competitive Edge

It’s a new year and dealers and managers are on a constant watch for ways to differentiate themselves from other dealers. One of the more unique ideas that is attracting car buyers, for new and used vehicles, is offering a cruise vacation for two. 

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Many dealers are using cruise certificates as a marketing tool for generating new and used sales, leases, better ad response and more referrals. An incentive used widely in other industries, cruise certificates such as a five-day/four-night trip to Mexico, the Bahamas or the Western Caribbean are offered to car buyers when they buy through a participating dealership. 

Dealers purchase the incentives at wholesale prices, and the client chooses one of several trip itineraries, on one of the major cruise lines, with 200 dates and several ports of departure to choose from, such as Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Port Canaveral or Miami. The specific cruise ships, itineraries and travel dates are based upon ports of departure and are subject to availability. 

Dealers should look for cruises that are booked on luxury super-liner cruise ships and based on double occupancy. It’s best to look for certificates that include a 4A stateroom, all onboard gourmet meals and snacks, complimentary room service, a wide range of evening entertainment including Las Vegas-style shows, fun shipboard activities and travel to exciting international cities to visit and shop. 

While the total value of cruise packages can be up to a $1,798 value, the cost to dealers is usually under $150 and includes free marketing materials. Look for certificates that are transferable, and where certificate recipients have up to 18 months to take their cruise, with options to upgrade their stateroom, length of cruise or bring additional guests.

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Getting to and from the port of departure is the responsibility of the certificate recipient, but generally the rest is included in the package. Port charges, taxes and fees are the responsibility of the car buyer, but they are usually a nominal amount of approximately $40 per day/per person to cover. Additionally, guests cover their own gratuities, bar beverages, shore excursions and personal expenses. 

“We sold 120 cars in the month of December using the cruise incentive promotion,” Johnnie Andrawas, general manager of Jay Wolfe Toyota said. “The amount of attention we got was incredible. People were excited because it’s unique and an amazing value. It helped increase our sales for a record month in December. We will continue to use it for other special promotions through the year.” 

Using a cruise incentive program gives dealers a competitive edge over other dealers in their market. A cruise vacation is an incentive that others can’t easily match, while helping increase sales, move older inventory and increase gross revenue. It’s also a great tool for sponsorships and donations to schools, non-profits, community and industry events and golf tournaments.

The concept of offering a cruise vacation to clients appeals to all age groups and has been a cost-effective tool for dealers. It’s fun to implement, it works great to motivate car buyers to buy sooner and at the participating dealer.

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