Association to host event in Vietnam next week. Amie Keeley reports

Agents will learn how to capitalise on a growing and lucrative market at this month’s Asia River Cruise & Destination Forum in Vietnam.

Two hundred delegates will travel to Ho Chi Minh City for the first international conference of its kind in the country on April 10-12.

Giles Hawke, chief executive of Cosmos and Avalon Waterways and deputy chairman of Clia UK & Ireland, will address delegates on the second day of the event.

He said there was “money to be made” in Asian river cruising and agents attending the conference should seize the opportunity to arm themselves with as much knowledge as possible.

“Although volumes are relatively small, the market is lucrative because the average selling price is high,” he said. “A river cruise in Asia is around £4,000-£5,000 per person so there’s quite a lot of money to be made.

“It’s also a growing market and we’re seeing more rivers opening up. The Mekong and Ganges are particularly popular.”

Hawke said the conference would also have a big focus on the destination.

“This is as much about seeing the destination as the cruise experience,” he said.

“People want experiences, they want to do things, and Asia offers something completely different culturally.

“It’s a great way to see Asia and see something authentic on the excursions and come back to luxury at the end of the day.”

Hawke, who will be experiencing an Asian river cruise for the first time himself during the conference, said the majority of Avalon customers booking Asia were repeat passengers who had sailed European itineraries.

However, he said the line was also attracting new customers who wanted onboard luxury with an “authentic” and more intrepid holiday experience.

After the conference, agents will experience the product first hand by going on a three or four-day sailing on the Mekong on board one of six vessels.

“We’ve held the conference in Amsterdam for a number of years so this is something really different for agents,” Hawke said.

“Clia recognises that Asia is a growth area so this is a great opportunity to get people out there and see it for themselves.

“This, and hearing from experts, will really help their knowledge on the product. Agency owners will get ideas on how to market this sector, while for frontline staff, being armed with that knowledge and showing they are experts will help them close that sale.”

Conference timetable

Tuesday, April 10
13.00: Lunch and registration
14.00: Opening session
14.30: Sponsor speed training
Evening: Rooftop reception at Caravelle, courtesy of Scenic

Wednesday, April 11
10.30: Conference moderated by Andy Harmer, director, Clia UK & Ireland and Lucy Huxley, editor-in-chief, Travel Weekly
Speakers: Giles Hawke, Clia; Luke Nguyen, APT; Andre Dreyer, Pandaw; Raj Singh, Exotic Heritage Group
12.00: Asia river cruise quiz
12.45: Lunch
13.30: Trade fair
14.45: Conference
Speakers: Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways, Peter Kollar, Clia Australia; Andy Harmer, Clia
16.35: Close
18.30: Evening courtesy of APT and Luke Nguyen at Vietnam House, Ho Chi Minh City

Thursday, April 12
Agents embark on Mekong sailings on either AmaDara (AmaWaterways), Indochine II (CroisiEurope), La Marguerite (APT), Tonle Pandaw or Mekong Pandaw (both Pandaw) or Avalon Siem Reap (Avalon Waterways)

cruiseaprslot Supplement: Travel Weekly Cruise, April 2018