Anyone who works in the travel industry will be aware that life can change very quickly – just when you think things are going perfectly something unexpectedly pops up – perhaps that’s the attraction for us!
2016 has been that sort of year as we face, like everyone within the industry, the ongoing challenge to our business of terrorism and its effect on travellers’ confidence, the unique event that was the EU Referendum and the possibility of Brexit, but for Fred Olsen Travel it’s been particularly challenging following the announcement that AmaWaterways were to open their own office in the UK.
We have represented AmaWaterways in the UK for almost 10 years, through a period of exponential growth within the river cruise industry. It’s been an incredibly exciting journey for us and an honour to represent this fantastic product and work closely with Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst.
However all good things must come to an end and it’s clear that in such a competitive industry that building awareness of the brand becomes crucial and it’s only natural that the owners would want direct control over the marketing of their product and brand.
To some extent we may be victims of our own success as even in a competitive industry where our adversaries appear to have endless marketing funds, we have delivered growth by always recognising that we needed to work closely with the trade through organisations like Clia and Tipto.
Our new role with AmaWaterways is as a preferred partner operating under our Fred.\ River Cruises brand and we will continue to promote sales of AMA through the trade and work with as many of our key partners as we can. We have established some fantastic partnerships based on mutual trust and respect and I hope we can maintain these going forward.
As one door closes another one opens and the removal of the exclusivity aspect with AmaWaterways opens up opportunities for us to work with a wider range of partners and products. We have already added the MV Mahabaahu on the Brahmaputra river in India and the Volga Dream on the Russian Waterways to our portfolio of products we can offer the trade.
Our vision at Fred.\ River Cruises is to become a one-stop-shop for the travel trade looking to grow their river cruise business – we have the expertise, the contacts, the products and can create bespoke fully-bonded packages on which the agent will be paid their commission.
Agents will be able to order copies of our new Far Horizons of India brochure, featuring a range of MV Mahabaahu itineraries combined with land stays in Bhutan, the Golden Triangle & more, as of next week. Our Volga Dream brochure will also be available next month.
Steve Williams is the managing director of Fred. Olsen Travel