Special Report: Advantage Cruise Conference 2017

Special Report: Advantage Cruise Conference 2017

Advantage hosted more than 60 agents and 23 cruise lines on P&O’ Ventura. Harry Kemble reports from Southampton

Advantage unveils Cruise Finder for members

The Advantage Travel Partnership has created a search tool to help members find the “perfect” cruise for clients.

The system, called Advantage Cruise Finder, was announced by senior commercial manager Claire Brighton during the Advantage Cruise Conference’s Big Reveal session, held on board P&O’s Ventura in Southampton.

Advantage members can host the software, developed by technology company Widgety, on their websites, in-store devices and even their Facebook pages for £100 per month.

The price includes Brochure Rack, which allows customers to view brochures online.

Cruise Finder allows agents to compare more than 650 ocean and river cruise ships worldwide.

Filters include cruise line, ship, length of cruise and price range. Results are listed and filtered as you search for the cruise.

A video played to members said Cruise Finder “helps customers find their perfect cruise”.

Brighton said: “Cruise Finder is needed because we have two types of agents – the new-to-cruise people who have not engaged in cruise and others who sell loads of cruise.

“The new-to-cruise agents might be a little bit scared or feel they don’t have the knowledge to do it. Now all the product [information] is there, so they don’t have to be scared of it.

“Then there are people who sell loads of cruise and, for them, Cruise Finder is a bit of a time‑saving exercise.”

Advantage Cruise Finder is available exclusively to members of the consortium until the end of February. After that Cruise Finder will be rolled out to other agencies and consortia.

Damian Gevertz, director of Widgety, said: “Cruise Finder can be installed quickly, is designed to educate the staff as they sell, and customers can still make an enquiry. This is our greatest success to date since we started as a company in 2014.”

He added the team is hoping to add more destination information to Cruise Finder in future.

Magazine triggers over 600 bookings

Advantage Travel Partnership claimed a consumer magazine it published last year generated bookings worth more than £2.3 million for its members.

Senior commercial manager Claire Brighton said more than 600 bookings were made within 60 days of customers receiving Explore magazine. She said she was hopeful a second edition of Explore, due out in December, would get “even stronger results for members” and promised “a greater level of personalisation”.

Agents can white‑label the magazine and send it to customers.

Explore features expert guides, information about new ships, and interviews with river and ocean cruise companies.

‘Tap in to the most lucrative period in cruising’s history’

Agents were urged to take advantage of what is potentially the most lucrative period in the history of cruising.

Clia senior vice-president Andy Harmer said: “Your job [as travel agents] is to match them on the right cruise, on the right ship, at the right price, at the right time, and then close and remember to get your money from them.

“Travel agents are feeling more confident and more aware and becoming experts in the destinations and ports.”

Harmer told Advantage Travel members that a record 25 million people worldwide were set to take a cruise holiday this year.

“Cruising really does appeal,” he said, adding: “That means we truly can say, for the first time in our history, maybe there is a cruise for everybody.”

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