Advisors often have plenty of older clients. Why? Because they have money. Remember those market segments like yuppie and buppie? These clients are now woofs, short for well-off older folks. Many of them take cruises, living happy lives. Do you have some older clients with time on their hands? Are they in good health? Are they lonely? Cruising might be for them.
As an advisor, you can tell when your clients have time on their hands. They call you often. They remark their children live on the other coast or have young families that consume all their time. Their family visits are less and less frequent. You pick up clues when you ask about their holiday plans. Another clue is when they talk about members of their social circle gradually dying off. Simply put, they need an injection of new friends.
What Cruises Offer
Taking a cruise is a good first step. If it works well, this can lead to multiple cruises throughout the year. They have the time and the money. There are bargains out there. Your retired clients should have the time to do some research. If not, a good travel agent can help. Ideally, you can recommend a few of these professionals.
Cruise lines have personalities. If your client is sad their children don’t come to visit and rarely see their grandchildren, a cruise line targeting young families is not the ideal choice. The magic words in the cruise industry are “adult cruising.” I like the expression “cruises for people whose children have grown.” A good travel agent knows what lines are a good fit.
Cruise ships are floating hotels. Actually, they are floating resorts. There are plenty of onboard activities designed to get people together in groups to have fun. Your client might think shuffleboard is not for them, but that’s a stereotype since cruises offer so much more.
A good cruise line should offer groups for singles and service club members, morning religious services, bridge, watercolor classes and senior level exercise programs, to name a few. Have a client who is a recovering alcoholic and may struggle being surrounded by happy drinkers? Some cruises discretely hold Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Near or Far
Where do passengers come from? If the ship is sailing in the Mediterranean, chances are most guests are European. If the ship is sailing transatlantic, they are mostly British and American. For ships that start from and return to New York or New Jersey, chances are most people are Americans and probably many live in the tri-state area. So if your client is from New Jersey, this means they can make new friends who live nearby, not people who years ago were considered “geographically undesirable.” Even folks halfway around the globe can easily video chat.
How many people can your lonely senior meet? Let’s assume they are taking a seven-night cruise, starting and ending at the same port close to their home.Your senior client has at least one good friend left, who is agreeable to traveling. This allows them to take advantage of double occupancy rates, avoiding the single supplement charge.
11 Ways to Connect
Now, let us look at how many people a smiling, decently dressed, silver-haired adult can meet in seven days.
Boarding the ship
Your client is standing in line, waiting to check in at the pier. They turned their luggage over to a smiling stevedore. The line is moving slowly, but everyone is in good spirits. Your client can talk with the couple ahead of them and the couple behind them. (4 people met)
First moment aboard
Your client checks out their cabin. OK, it’s small because they didn’t pay much and got a great rate. No big deal. They only sleep in the cabin because they have this great big ship to explore! They are hungry so they head up to the buffet restaurant and get some lunch. It’s quite busy. They find open seats at a table set with four places. The other two places are occupied. They chat with them. (4 people on the pier + 2 = 6 people met.)
Remember the TV series “The Love Boat”? Of course, you do! The ship pulls away from the dock, there is a big party on deck with music. That still happens! Your client shows up for the festivities. Over an hour of partying, they meet two interesting couples. They exchange names and cabin numbers if they seem interesting. (6 + 4 = 10 people met.)
Planning ahead, your client asked to be seated at a table for eight. Statistically, this gives them the greatest chance of meeting interesting people. If they all speak a foreign language or they don’t hit it off, it’s not a big deal. Your client can ask the maître d’ to move them to another table. Let us assume it’s a good group. They meet six new people. (10 + 6 = 16 people met.)
Your client could order breakfast from room service, but what is the point? There is a dining room serving lunch and dinner in an open seating format. The menu includes eggs Benedict and bagels with smoked salmon. It’s all included! The maître d’ asks your client if they are OK sharing a table. They say, “Yes,” the bigger the better! Now we hit the big numbers. Your client does this every day. The table seats eight people. That is 42 new faces over seven days! (16 + 42 = 58 people met.)
Three tours in port
The ship stops several times during the voyage. Your client might be tempted to explore on their own, but it is easier to book one of the shore excursions offered by the ship. This costs money, but what are the chances they will come back to this island again? Get touring right the first time! During each tour your client meet four new people. They sit with them on the bus or shop together. (3 x 4 = 12 new people. 12 + 58 = 70 people met.)
Four lunches onboard
Some days are sea days. On other days, the port doesn’t interest them. Maybe they are not a beach person. They have plenty of company! They show up at the dining room for lunch. Once again, a large table is fine. They meet six new people. (6 x 4 = 24 new people. 70 + 24 = 94 people.)
Some of the traditional onboard activities are the pub quizzes. This is not a part of American culture, but very big in the U.K. and other countries. Our recent Christmas cruise hosted four quizzes every day! More than people attend, forming teams of up to six people. Quizzes are ideal for making friends because they are a great “leveler.” Everyone knows something, but no one knows everything! Your client picks a timeslot they like, shows up and chooses to join a new team every day. They meet four new people at every quiz. (4 x 7 = 28 people. 94 + 28 = 122 people met.)
OK, maybe your client went for the Scotch tasting or the martini class instead. It was a small group, but can they ever talk. Your client hits it off with the six other participants and they stagger back to their cabins, still talking. (6 + 122 = 128 new people.)
The singles daily get-together
This happens at least once per day. It grows and grows every day as word spreads that it is fun! Many people seem to be of similar age. Some are interested in dating, others in finding someone to hang out with while on vacation. Your client meet two new people every day. (2 x 7 = 14. 14 + 128 = 142 new people.)
It is easy to meet people spontaneously. Your client is sitting next to someone while the ship is tendering into port and they strike up a conversation. While walking around the pier area, your client sees a fellow passenger and stops to join them for a glass of wine. They also meet the people in the cabins on either side of theirs. (This adds 8 people to their total. 8 + 142 = 150 new people!)
How is your lonely senior client feeling now? It is unlikely they followed this Olympic level networking exercise step by step. It would be exhausting. However, they met people at their table in the dining room. They joined a quiz team and stuck with that group, getting to know them better. Let us assume they had a 10% success rate: 10% of 150 is 15 new friends. Perhaps they organized a cabin party for their new friends.
Your client has walked off the ship having exchanged contact information with 15 people. Happily, they live nearby or close enough to visit. They loved cruising and have already started to look for their next cruise. They thank you for enriching their life! Perhaps they even tell their new cruise friends about the financial advisor who realized they needed something extra in their life and pointed them towards cruising.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” is available on Amazon.