Comment: Jump on board the river cruise trend

Comment: Jump on board the river cruise trend

The time is right to capitalise on the huge swell in demand, says Kirsty Orr, chief operations officer at Traveltek Group Ltd

Consumer demand for river cruises continues to boom, particularly in Europe where more vessels are entering the waterways, offering cruisers a more diverse range of products, experiences and itineraries.

Huge investment is being committed to developing innovative ships that appeal to a broad audience, from families and groups to couples and increasingly, Millennials.

The latest figures from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reveal the number of British travellers taking a river cruise rose by more than 10% in 2016, with 10,000 extra passengers boosting the total to 150,300.

Their destination preference was Europe, accounting for 87% of river cruises taken by UK passengers. However, while the trend over the last five years has been for European rivers to increase market share, UK passengers to destinations outside of Europe increased by 15% in 2016 to 22,000 in total due to growing interest in Asia’s waterways.

Ship supply is on the rise too, with more than 13 new river cruise ships entering the market this year, taking the global total to almost 200.

Travel agents will find out how they can increase their share of the growing river cruise sector at the annual CLIA UK & Ireland River Cruise Convention in Amsterdam, which takes place this week (November 18-19).

Several world-class ships will be showcased to the 200-plus travel agents attending the event, allowing them to differentiate between vessel types and river cruise experiences.

The three ships making their debut at the conference are A Rosa Flora, Riviera Travel’s Emily Bronte and CroisiEurope’s MS Symphonie. These will be joined by Amadeus Silver III and Scenic Jasper.

Many of these operators are available through Traveltek’s API, some of which have joined us in the past year, and as demand continues to grow at pace, we are witnessing strong interest from lines that wish to maximise their distribution capabilities.

Traveltek currently offers its customers access to more than 190 ocean and river cruise suppliers through its API and we anticipate this will top 200 in the not-too-distant future.

With so many new river cruise lines entering the market, many of which offer a high percentage of stateroom suites and a large range of ‘add-on’ excursions and activities, travel and cruise bookers are presented with exciting revenue- and commission-earning opportunities.

Agents that have already embraced this high-growth potential will be recognised at the second CLIA River Cruise Excellence Awards, which are part of the association’s Amsterdam convention.

Traveltek is the headline sponsor of the awards, which honours agents who excel in the promotion and sale of river cruises – those who have educated themselves on the market and capitalised on its growth.

As a leading cruise technology provider, known for our pioneering dynamic packaging solutions and unrivalled cruise content, we applaud innovation and expertise in this field, and we continue to develop our solutions to help travel companies increase their cruise sales.

That’s why we’ve just launched CruiseNX, our next-generation cruise platform, which offers
travel and cruise specialists a broad range of capabilities designed to drive productivity and enhance the user experience.

Available for desktop and as a new B2C website journey and developed in partnership with some of our major clients, CruiseNX benefits include advanced search criteria, enhanced ‘manage my booking’ and filter options, improved itinerary maps and new price-range sliders, as well as the ability to secure multiple cabins in one booking journey.

We believe this powerful tool will help the industry drive more cruise bookings via all distribution channels.

It’s another leap forward in transforming the way the industry sells ocean and river cruises and we look forward to seeing this next-generation technology pay dividends for our clients very soon.

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