Viking River Cruises is to launch a dedicated microsite for travel agents that will include social networking facilities.
The site, which is due to go live by early summer, will include updated news on the river cruise operator, information on fam trips, details of bonus commissions and a ship image archive. It will also include an online training programme for agents.
UK managing director Wendy Atkin-Smith said agents would also be able to sign up for a dedicated email with offers and news.
She added: “We hope to have it up and running in May or June we don’t want to launch it piecemeal. The second phase will be images – it would be lovely to give agents the chance to upload photos.”
Atkin-Smith said ultimately the operator wants customers to write their own reviews on the consumer part of the site to be as “transparent as possible”.
News of the site comes as the operator launches its second edition 2009 brochure, which includes five new rail itineraries using Eurostar. They are: A Taste of the Rhine Majestic Rhine Castles and Wine Danube Discovery and Danube Adventure.
The move comes as customers continue to seek alternatives to air travel. A Taste of the Rhine offers customers three or four-night taster cruises. “We only did a couple of ad hoc rail cruises before, just to test the water but people are taking more short-break holidays,” added Atkin-Smith.
The brochure includes details of the cruiseline’s new 189-passenger ship Viking Legend, launching in May. Its inaugural cruise is Viking’s Grand European Tour. The ship is being promoted as Europe’s first ‘green’ river cruise ship, claiming its new engines will achieve 20% more fuel efficiency than other cruise ships in the region and a quieter ride.
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