French river cruise line CroisiEurope has revealed plans to triple its UK sales team and bring agent bookings through its London call centre up to half of its UK business.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly in Phnom Penh, at the inauguration of new Mekong cruise ship Indochine II, international sales director Michel Grimm said 90% of its UK trade business currently comes through tour operator partnerships with companies including Voyages Jules Verne, Noble Caledonia, Great Rail Journeys, Shearings, Cosmos, Saga and Titan. Agent reservations directly through CroisiEurope account for a “maximum” of 10%.
But he wants to drive agent bookings through the London office up to a 50/50 split by appointing two more on-the-road sales managers in the next year – bringing the sales team to three in the UK, and a total of eight CroisiEurope employees in the country – along with more fam trips, onboard training and a loyalty scheme for agents.
He said: “Presently, we work much more with tour operators – almost exclusively – and we want to keep and develop those partnerships, but also develop that travel agent business.
“To do this, we need to communicate much more on our brand. We will increase direct marketing by working much more with travel agents and consortia.
“We will increase our CroisiEurope team in the UK – at present, we have a call centre and a sales manager, but we will have more sales people and a marketing person, to be on the road informing and training travel agents.
“Today, we carry about 12,000 passengers [from the UK] and my goal is to double that.”
The 31-cabin Indochine II is the line’s fifth ship on the Mekong, and Grimm said the company was eyeing expansion in Asia, with north Vietnam and India as areas they were “studying”.
African Dream, CroisiEurope’s first ship in Africa, will launch in December on the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers, with another eight-cabin vessel to follow in Africa in 2018. Next year will also see the launch of new ships on the Elbe, Seine and Rhone, with a sixth Douro vessek to follow in 2019.
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