You might wonder what a cruise ship has to do with marketing — and what could that possibly mean for you?

The answer is: everything.

I recently returned from a wonderful cruise along the Alaskan coastline aboard the Coral Princess. You’d think that the travel company would end its marketing with the sale of the cruise tickets, but you’d be wrong.

There are many lessons to be learned here and I’ll probably break this story up into several bite-sized pieces for you so you can savor each morsel and determine how it might fit into your marketing strategy.

The lessons will be worthwhile to anyone who operates a seminar, convention, tour, and dozens of scenarios I can’t imagine but all have one thing in common: the people are physically in an environment where you control just about everything. There probably are lessons here as well for many marketers in a variety of situations.

Let’s start.

I heard that the cruise industry expects people to spend $200 per person per day extra, above and beyond the cost of the cruise tickets.

They do this by selling tours of land excursions. They have stores selling clothes, jewelry, watches and duty-free liquor (not to be drunk aboard the ship, which could interfere with their own bar sales), even tuxedo shirts and a book with the chef’s favorite dishes. And don’t forget the art auction! That’s worth a blog entry in itself!

Dan’s Chipping Point #1: The sale is only the beginning of a relationship. What else can you sell your customers?

Authors, speakers and coaches have built empires based on products such as books, CDs, group and personal coaching sessions, phone seminars, in-person seminars, boot camps and on and on. You’ve heard the maxim, “it is easier to sell to an existing customer than to find a new customer.” Now you know why.

Tomorrow, we’ll see what you must do before the event to ensure sales happen at the event.