With the April debut of the Great American Steamboat Company’s American Queen on the Mississippi, we thought it as good a time as any to reach out to Tim Rubacky, senior v.p. of sales, marketing and product development, Great American Steamboat Company, to hear why travel agents should book their clients on a steamboat journey in this speed-centric age.
Paloma Villaverde de Rico: Why should travelers opt for a voyage with the Great American Steamboat Company—what makes its offerings/voyages unique?
Tim Rubacky: Travelers will again enjoy the iconic experience, celebrated by Mark Twain and others, of riverboat cruises on the great rivers of the America’s heartland. Every departure will feature the storied American Queen, the largest, most lavish steamboat ever built. With convenient departures from some of the United States’ most iconic cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, Vicksburg, St. Louis, Louisville, St. Paul, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, this legendary mode of travel will be easier than ever to enjoy.
PVR: Why are the themed voyages such an integral part of the company’s product offerings?
TR: Guests want to discover so much of this country’s rich history and themed cruises such as our Civil War are led by academics and passionate storytellers. What could be a better classroom.
PVR: Have a lot of your clients cruised with larger cruise lines or even small ship cruise lines before trying out a steamboat voyage?
TR: Yes, and many have cruised the riverboats of Europe as well. They are looking forward to discovering their backyard and places like Natchez and Madison.
PVR: What’s the target clientele?
PVR: What can a traveler expect when traveling on the American Queen—both on board and via the land excursions?
TR: Inspired by the greatest steamboats of the 19th century, the American Queen offers an opulent two-level “Grand Saloon,” an elegant two-deck high Grand Dining Room, lavishly appointed staterooms, many with their own private verandah and all of the modern amenities today’s travelers expect. Personal touches and finite attention to detail abound, from fresh baked cinnamon rolls each morning, to complimentary wine and beer with dinner, and proper evening turn-down service, complete with a praline on the pillow. Of note is the fact that in an age of mega-ships accommodating more than 4,000 guests, the American Queen carries only 436 privileged guests, surrounding them in an atmosphere of rich paneling, crystal chandeliers, period furniture and Victorian elegance.
PVR: What is important for agents to know if they want to sell Great American Steamboat Company itineraries to their clients?
TR: EVERYONE is a potential client—don’t limit your market with limited thinking.
• Sell to Food & Wine affinity groups; sell affinity groups—river cruises are perfect for almost any affinity group.
• Sell to Destination Junkies—river cruising offers a better destination experience than almost any ocean cruise.
• Sell to Disenfranchised Ocean Cruisers—river cruising offers a level of warmth, intimacy and cuisine that is rarely found on today’s city-size cruise ships.
• Sell Your Expertise—immerse yourself in learning all you can and market yourself as THE expert.
• Sell the Value—river cruises are by and large much more inclusive and have a greater value proposition than premium ocean cruises.
• Sell the Holidays—river cruises travel to the most fascinating holiday destinations in the world.
• Sell To Active Travelers—river cruises offer great opportunities to sell to travelers who are more active, more athletic or think that cruises are for over-eating.
• Sell the Convenience—river cruises often depart from cities with much better airlift and are easier to get to, whether in Europe or America.
PVR: What travel agent incentives/offerings does Great American Steamboat Company offer travel agents?
TR: Basically everything is commissionable.
For more information, call (888) 749-5280 or visit greatamericansteamboatcompany.com.