A vendor on a cruise ship increases her client base by 8,600 customers each time one of the larger cruise ships sail fully booked, according to the Wall Street Journal. It takes about 700 tons of supplies to operate the floating city. (See References 1) Qualifications that entice cruise purchase agents include the ability to order and store the large inventory cruise ships need for voyages. Enter the exciting world of cruise vendors by following these steps.
Steps to Becoming a Cruise Ship Vendor
Meet the qualifications. With combined orders from two large cruise ships, Floral Masters made 900 floral arrangements in 2004, according to Seattle Biz Journal in their Getting on Board article. (See References 2) Preparing for a large volume short time period jolt in business takes skill. Floral Masters rented an 8,000 square foot warehouse in South Seattle for the 8,500 stems of flowers needed for the orders. Hiring extra workers, renting additional space, and ordering supplies in a timely fashion takes organization, money, and months of preparation.
Create your sales pitch. Purchase agents are busy people. It takes consistency and tenacity to even get them on the phone. Pitch your products succinctly. Prepare a one minute sales pitch answering the basic question most purchasing agents want to know--what's in it for me? Tell him how hiring you benefits him.
Contact the ship's purchasing agent. This may be the hardest part. Once you do contact the cruise ship's purchasing agent, and politely ask if he has a quick minute--make your pitch. Next, pause and ask if he has any questions. The purchasing agent is not going to buy your product based on your pitch. It's merely the first step. Offer to send brochures, photos of your work, or whatever he requests from you. Prepare yourself for a lengthy back and forth communication. You're main purpose is to build a relationship with the cruise ship.
Consider hiring a vendor agent. Vendor agents for cruise ships hire everything from the showy casino talent, to the clothes vendor. They specialize in hiring qualified vendors for cruise ships. They already have established relationships with cruise ship personnel.
Be persistent. Keep marketing to cruise ship purchasing agents and vendor agents. Find out what trade shows they attend and book a booth. Keep sending your marketing materials as well as any awards you receive. Keep them updated on your business.