Insider’s Guide to WAVE SEASON
What most people call “winter months” or “first quarter of the year,” we in the travel industry call “Wave Season.” It’s a decades-old reference that I believe started in the 1980s.
The term was based on the “wave” of cruise bookings that always flowed in (bad pun intended) immediately following the holidays.
Over time, the period has gone from being a busy time for most of the travel industry to representing about 50% of the year’s bookings being made during this three-month timeframe. It’s also been adopted by land package and motorcoach tour operators who want to aggressively market to be sure they also gain their share of vacationer’s budgeted funds.
But what does this mean to you? Here are pros and cons that a sharp travel consumer will want to know:
Pro: Consumer Awareness
I’m a huge believer in educated consumers being the best consumers. “Wave Season” brings attention by way of educational articles and news segments. Read between the fluff and skip the “if it bleeds, it leads” junk and instead pay attention to what you can learn about destinations, cruise lines, cruise ships and cruising tips.
Cons: Hold Times
This time of year, a consumer or travel advisor can get through to a cruise line by phone in minutes or we could sit on hold long enough to read half of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Two of my more memorable hold times in the past week were 46 minutes and nearly two hours. The way for you, as a traveler, to avoid wasting your time is to hire a travel advisor so we can work by online agent portals and phones on your behalf. One of the many benefits of hiring a travel professional is so you can spend your time doing more fun and productive tasks.
Since three months of the year carry such a high volume of calls, most cruise lines have a lot of newly hired, sometimes seemingly barely trained, inexperienced agents on the phones. While the lower hold times are appreciated, the downside is a lot of misinformation, increased chances of errors and time on hold while the agent is checking answers with a supervisor. Carlos from my office and I were recently talking about how much easier it is for long-time travel advisors to know a cruise line agent is unsure of what they are saying or is giving wrong information. I often appreciate our “gut feelings.” They’ve protected our clients and me many times.
With so many bookings over a short period, availability goes quickly. Particularly when you’re looking at the nicest or least expensive accommodations, popular sailing times and best promotions. The earlier you plan, the better your options will be.
Pro: Good Deals
Cruise lines can predict a lot about the year by their first quarter bookings. Aggressive promotional deals offering discounted rates and extra perks can benefit savvy travelers looking for the best value for their vacation budget.
Check out a few examples of the promotions running right now:
Royal Caribbean International- Buy One, Get One 60% Off! Plus, 30% Off the 3rd/4th Guests, Kids Sail Free and Up to $150 Instant Savings. Book by 1/31/20.
Princess Cruises- “Best. Sale. Ever.” Gives you a Premier Beverage Package (alcohol, sodas, coffee!), Wi-Fi and Gratuities on cruises starting in April 2020. Book by 2/29/20.
AmaWaterways- Save up to $1,500 per stateroom on 2020 sailings and receive a $300 onboard credit per stateroom on select sailings. Book by 3/31/20
If you are ready to plan your vacation, it’s time to catch the wave! We’d be happy to help you navigate the options so you can get the best value for your money.