The association held a Cruise360 event in Europe for the first time. Lucy Huxley and Jane Archer report from Copenhagen
Agents urged to ‘excite’ customers with knowledge
Agents are missing out on cruise sales because they do not know enough to get their clients excited about the places they will visit.
Peter Kollar, Clia Australia’s head of international training development, said agents can tell clients about the product – the value, the food, the amenities – but then the itinerary comes up and their “brains get fried” because they don’t know the ports.
He said: “Selling is all about making an emotional connection with the client. Tangible items such as shoes and cars are easy because customers can touch them.
“Clients can’t do that with a cruise ship so you have to use destination knowledge to paint a picture for them.
“You don’t have to talk about every port on the itinerary, but enough to excite them and make them feel part of the picture.”
A destination expert with some 20 years’ cruise experience, Kollar admitted it is hard for agents to know all the places ships visit around the world, but advised they start by looking at the fact sheets, videos, maps and other resources on Clia’s website.
He said they should also learn about popular places close to home, as well as rivers and turnaround ports where passengers embark and disembark.
“Of the 600 ports in Europe, 14 are used for turnarounds,” he said.
“They don’t change but they are where you make your money by selling airport transfers, hotels, day trips and maybe land tours.
“Create your own resource detailing distances from the airport to the port or city, transfer options and your suppliers, and keep it up to date. Go that extra mile and I guarantee you will have a client for life.”
Clia Europe boss: Cruise is scapegoat for eco issues
The cruise industry is a “convenient scapegoat” for media focus on environmental issues and overcrowding in tourist destinations, according to the boss of Clia Europe.
Speaking at the association’s first Cruise360 conference in Copenhagen at the weekend, Kerry Anastassiadis said:
“We pay the price of being so obvious and as a result we get disproportionate attention.
“This doesn’t absolve us. There are solutions to everything, but the cruise sector is not solely to blame and we are doing a lot of work to mitigate issues that people have no idea about.”
Responding to criticism that cruising is a key source of overtourism in places such as Dubrovnik, Santorini and Venice, Anastassiadis, the boss of Celestyal Cruises, said: “Of the 1.3 billion tourists worldwide, only 25 million take a cruise, so we can’t be the drivers of congestion.It’s just cruise visitors are quite concentrated in ports – maybe for three or four hours – compared with other tourists, so more needs to be done to better spread these visits over time so it’s much smoother in terms of our guests being absorbed into the total numbers,” he said.
He said the development of new destinations would also help reduce the concentration on certain ports.
“Of the 350 members of MedCruise, only about 100 ports are used currently, so there is huge potential to spread tourists out better,” said Anastassiadis.
Commenting on the cruise industry’s environmental record, he said: “Critics always compare cruise ships to cars, but really, they should compare us to small cities – and our water purification and management, and our rubbish recycling are better than most.”
Anastassiadis added that the cruise sector had driven the development of liquefied natural gas engines to propel its ships, and warned: “Don’t blame us when we’re leading the change to make these more energy efficient with our money. We’re doing our bit, so where are the other people doing theirs? I’m not trying to deflect our responsibility, but it’s a chain reaction – a whole cycle that requires us to work in collaboration to move forward.”
Northeast Passage to be ‘next big thing’
The Northeast Passage – across the Arctic Ocean along the coasts of Norway and Russia – was tipped as the next go-to destination for expedition cruising by Seabourn.
Robin West, the line’s senior manager for expedition operations and planning, said: “Everyone wants to go to the polar regions, but Iceland is seeing a surge in tourism. The Northwest Passage has opened up, and soon it will be the Northeast Passage.”
He said luxury lines such as Seabourn were tapping in to demand to visit remote destinations such as the Arctic and Antarctica without compromising on luxury.
Celestyal signs package deal with Hays
Celestyal Cruises has signed a deal with Hays Travel to package up three and four-night Aegean cruises into seven-night holidays for its staff and consortium members to sell, starting this week.
It is also in talks with Iglu Cruises regarding a similar initiative, according to Celestyal Cruises chief executive Kerry Anastassiadis.
Until now, Celestyal Cruises has been a cruise-only product that agents have packaged up with pre and post-cruise accommodation.
Anastassiadis said the idea was to create full packages that were far easier for agents to sell. He hopes to establish similar deals with other agency groups and consortia in the coming months.
He revealed the line’s new fares included all shore excursions, drinks, gratuities and taxes, “so there are no hidden charges”.
Record agency numbers join global cruise body Clia
Clia, the international cruise trade body, has seen a record number of agencies become members and has reached 4,000 for the first time. The number of members in Europe has also increased, with 1,000 agencies joining across France, Spain and the Netherlands. The number of ‘Accredited Masters’ agent cruise experts in the UK and Ireland has topped 100 for the first time.
Clia urges cruise lines and agents to donate to FHA
Clia is supporting the Family Holiday Association to provide 250 disadvantaged families with a break. During the Clia Cruise360 event, agent members and cruise line delegates were encouraged to donate £10 towards holidays for disadvantaged families. To donate, text ‘CLIA17 £10’ to 70070 or visit tinyurl.com/clia360fha.
Agents to enjoy Mekong cruise after Clia Asia event
Clia has announced details of the three-night river cruises that delegates can join after its first Asia Cruise Conference in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, in April 2018. Agents will join a cruise along the Mekong River on April 12 for three nights on Pandaw, APT, Avalon Waterways and AmaWaterways vessels.
Next year’s conference to take place in Southampton
Clia’s annual conference next year will be in Southampton on May 23-25. The event will feature a trade fair, gala dinner and conference with speakers from the global cruise industry. The event will allow agents to experience Oceania Cruises’ Marina, Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette. Registration opens on September 27.
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