For years now, the travel industry has been talking about consumers yearning for increasingly new and unusual holidays, but there are not many destinations that can genuinely fit the bill.
Few places are as remote as the Arctic and Antarctica, both of which have the ability to quench people’s thirst for something different. Where else can you get up close to penguins in their natural habitat or watch polar bears as they go about their daily business?
It is for that reason that Hurtigruten recently announced it is tripling its capacity to Antarctica, making it the largest provider of active travels to the area. We believe that there is a real demand for trips to the polar regions, but it is important that agents understand this growing market and target their sales pitch appropriately.
Although the age group for our explorer programme is slightly younger than our other voyages, that isn’t as relevant as the customers’ sense of adventure, with most passengers wanting to return home with memories of experiences that leave their friends & family in awe.
Some of them have tried conventional cruises and are looking for something different. Others would definitely not term themselves cruisers, but see the ship as the best way for them to get the experiences they are after. In other words, the ship is a means to an end, a way of getting to some of the most remote places in the world.
The activities on offer, such as camping alongside a colony of penguins, allow holidaymakers to follow in the footsteps of well-known explorers and try something that very few people have had the privilege to experience.
It is important to understand your customers’ motives for travel. More active customers with a history of ‘lakes and mountains’ holidays, but with no experience of cruise holiday may well be a perfect choice for this sort of trip even if they ‘don’t do cruises’. Agents need to paint a picture for their customers, selling the wondrous experiences that are on offer at the opposite ends of the earth.
We know from experience that our passengers are very loyal and a high proportion of them come back time and time again, so introduce a customer to adventure cruises and chances are, they will want to travel again and again. That is good news for agents as it is a high value product with numerous options on offer to keep even the most active of customers happy.
Don’t forget though. As well as understanding who your customers are, you must be able to speak knowledgeably about the product and have at least a basic understanding of geography and nature. It is surprising how many agents don’t realise that polar bears thrive in northernmost areas of the Arctic, while if it is penguins you are after, you should head to the vast white continent of Antarctica in the south.
Cecilia Abert is the country director for the UK at Hurtigruten