It’s a big day for small businesses when a cruise ship docks in their port city. Cruise ships can carry 6,000-plus passengers — and when those travelers disembark, they’ll play, dine, and shop locally until it’s time to board again. Here’s how to capitalize on a cruise ship visit.
- Partner with cruise ship operators. Cruises typically offer pre-paid “shore excursions” at destination ports, so many passengers plan their itineraries before they step off the ship. Contact cruise operators to discuss becoming a shore excursion partner, particularly if you offer popular tourist activities, such as sporting adventures or whale-watching trips. You may need to sacrifice some of your profit margin to the cruise line, but in return you’ll have guaranteed business every time the ship comes to town.
- Welcome visitors at the dock with a special discount. Look up the cruise ship’s itinerary online to find out exactly when passengers will disembark. Greet the new visitors with a business brochure and special discount. Make sure to smile and welcome each person individually — and take the time to answer any questions they have about your shop or service.
- Set up a vending stall near the pier. You may need to acquire a license or permit to do so, but if it’s allowed, selling your goods near the pier could prove lucrative. This is especially true if your full-fledged place of business is located off the beaten tourist path.
- Meet cruise passengers’ specific needs. Most cruises provide free access to food 24/7, so offering a $10 fish ’n’ chips platter at your restaurant isn’t likely to lure its passengers in. Instead, highlight a regional specialty that they can’t try on board. If you sell jewelry, art, or other material goods, keep in mind that many people like to travel light. Showcase small, easily portable products, and offer to package them. Consider providing free shipping of larger items (if the value is great enough to offset the expense).