The appetites of British cruisers are constantly coming under scrutiny, and for good reason; the market has been quoted as potentially containing a staggering 20 million people.
Considering that the UK cruise market was just 1.7 million in 2013 (according to figures released by Clia), how do agents start to turn those potential passengers into converted cruisers?
We asked three industry experts for their top tips when it comes to attracting first-time cruisers.
Marketing manager, Cruise & Maritime Voyages
Try before you buy
Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) invites those who want ‘to try before they buy’ with a number of onboard events during which potential new cruisers can have lunch or dinner while its ship, the Marco Polo, is in Tilbury.
Costs are £49 for lunch or £79 for dinner. Both events include cocktails and wine plus a show. There is also an option to stay on board overnight and have breakfast before leaving the ship for an extra £10.
Mike Hall, CMV’s head of marketing, said: “Together with other initiatives like our mini-cruises, when we reposition a ship within the UK and guests can try one night on board, these events attract first-time cruisers. It is like test driving a car.”
Head of business development, Celebrity Cruises
Sell the cruise as part of a bigger holiday
“My top tip for attracting first timers is to sell them a cruise as part of a longer holiday. Whether that’s pairing a trip to the Canadian Rockies with an Alaska cruise or a beach holiday in Spain with a cruise out of Barcelona, the idea is for the transition not to seem as big a deal as many believe it to be. The industry’s retention rates prove that once people are onboard, most of them will rebook. The challenge is getting people onboard in the first place.
“This idea can work with any situation or destination. Celebrity Silhouette operates seven-night cruises out of Florida that can easily be paired with trips to Universal Studios or Disney World. Transatlantic journeys are another obvious choice – especially for people who would rather avoid flying and want to see destinations like New York or Canada and New England in the autumn from the comfort of Celebrity Summit instead of coach tour. No hassles of packing and un-packing each day has to be a benefit of cruising to this part of the world.”
Deputy manager, Bath Travel Shaftesbury
Clients come to you for recommendations – think how many will suit cruising!
“Bear in mind that cruises are the ideal break for a range of customers. If you have a client who is asking for more than one destination, doesn’t want to be in the same place or doesn’t want a beach – then there will be a cruise for them.
“Also think of a cruise when one person wants to go somewhere different to their partner – a cruise could be the perfect compromise.
“Cruises are also ideal for those who aren’t desperate for a beach, like guided tours and also want a child-free environment.”