Long-haul cruise sales are ‘going through the roof’

By Edward Robertson

An explosion in interest in long-haul cruising should fit MSC Cruises’ plans to launch a round-the-world cruise in the near future.

Speaking at the MSC Cruises All Stars of the Sea event last week, Cruise Nation owner Phil Evans said the operator had seen long-haul cruises account for 70% of all sales, a business first.

He added: “For us the Far East has been going through the roof, it is bonkers the amount of interest we’re seeing down there.

“We weren’t even trying to promote it and it is through the roof; there’s a huge opportunity down there.”

Claire Brighton, Advantage Travel Partnership senior commercial manager, said the increase in interest was of benefit to the trade.

She added: “The difference for the agent is there is a greater need for them to be involved in the booking process. Complicated itineraries always work better than the others.”

Giles Hawke, MSC Cruises executive director UK, Ireland and Australia, said the increasingly adventurous appetites of cruisers could be seen in the popularity of its new 33-day cruise from Dubai to Australia in 2015, with the UK’s allocation 95% sold.

He added plans were already under way for a similar itinerary in 2016, with both Tasmania and New Zealand under consideration.

Hawke said this could then translate into a world cruise itinerary for 2017 using a smaller ship to better access ports.

“I know from my past life that a huge amount of cruisers want to [take longer itineraries],” he added. “They’ve got the time and the money.”

Earn commission on excursions

Hawke also said agents should take advantage of the commission the cruise operator offers on the trips.

“Excursions are available at the time of booking,” he said. “Some people will book their cruises with their shore excursions eight months out and start dreaming about their holiday.”

Hawke added other customers may not be so keen to buy them at the time of booking, adding: “If you try to do it all at the start then it can be a really expensive booking.”

“Excursions are available at the time of booking. Some people will book their cruises with their shore excursions eight months out and start dreaming about their holiday.”

Giles Hawke

Cruise Nation owner Phil Evans said the tour operator targeted customers two months before departure to effectively sell excursions.

The Advantage Travel Partnership senior commercial manager Claire Brighton admitted the consortium could do more to tap into the sector.

She said: “Our agents don’t necessarily put much effort into selling excursions as they get little from it.

“It is a way for them to maximise the opportunity; it is as easy as selling tickets when they go to Disney.”

Sourced from TTG Digital

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