Special Report: Clia Conference 2018 preview

Special Report: Clia Conference 2018 preview

Event takes place this month in Southampton and is themed #GenerationCruise. Harry Kemble reports

Seabourn and MSC heads talk luxury and technology

Travel agents will be given advice on how to match passengers to the right luxury cruise brand and the importance of onboard technology at this month’s Clia Conference.

Chris Austin, Seabourn senior vice-president for global sales and marketing, and Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises chief executive, will both take to the stage in Southampton at the #GenerationCruise-themed conference.

The conference, which runs from May 23-25, will raise issues facing the cruise industry and suggest ways to deal with them.

Austin will highlight the challenges of converting an agent’s client in the world of luxury cruising.
He said: “The travel agent plays a very big part [in attracting different generations]. Seabourn provides them with plenty of tools and information to help them.

“Match the right brand to the right client and they have a client for life. Match them to the wrong brand and they might lose a client.”

Austin said he would help agents by presenting ideas that enable them to “convert their client into a luxury one”.

He will also talk about each cruise brand’s responsibility to deliver “an exceptional product” within environmental guidelines.

Onorato is expected to explain how MSC Cruises’ product team works to identify new and upcoming trends in technology, so the line can appeal to all age groups.

MSC Cruises launched digital innovation programme ‘MSC for Me’ last year to meet the “very latest technological needs” for passengers for “years to come”.

The line plans to introduce a digital personal assistant in every cabin in its fleet, starting with MSC Bellissima, when it launches next year.

Onorato said: “I hope to highlight the importance of this technology in enhancing human interaction and will discuss why the two are so important to make
a cruise experience unique.”

All cruise lines ‘have responsibility to attract generations’

Every cruise line has a responsibility to attract different generations, according to Seabourn’s sales chief.

Chris Austin made the declaration ahead of Clia’s conference, where he is due to reveal new developments in the luxury cruise sector.

Explaining who is responsible for enticing different age groups on board, he said: “It is up to the individual brand.

“You cannot force someone to take a trip they do not want to take. We need to be welcoming all guest types and ages.

“I don’t believe there is a product or brand that fits all consumers.”

He added that the onboard experience appealed more to the millennial market than the destinations on a cruise.

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