Hear what agents made of Clia’s luxury cruise showcase below

The ultra-luxury cruise market must not use cliched terms when selling itself in wake of growing pressure from the premium brands or they will become “meaningless”, Clia’s luxury cruise showcase has heard.

Lisa McAuley, Gold Medal and Travel 2’s managing director, said marketing departments and agents should abate from saying “authentic, experiential and immersive” to customers.

“I think it is highly unlikely that someone is going to come into your shop and say, ‘I want an authentic, immersive experience where I can travel deeper’,” she said, speaking on stage to showcase delegates on Monday October 15.

“I would just air a word of caution on using these types of words because the more we use them the more they will become commonplace and they will become meaningless.

“Luxury travellers can see through the hype, so a word of caution: Be alluring but without being ostentatious.”

McAuley, who was Silversea’s UK boss for three years, said the use of such words had been driven by the rise of premium lines developing a luxury area on otherwise mainstream ship or “a product within a product”.

She added: “Those mainstream lines are constantly chipping away at the ultra-luxury market, so it becomes harder to define your product.”

Lines which offer luxury service with understated elegance were more likely to thrive in a world of austerity and poverty, she said.

“Communication is key,” she said, adding: “Communication can make or break a relationship.”

McAuley said few agents sold expedition cruise well. “People tend to dip in and out of [selling expedition cruise],” she added. “As I have said before if you focus on this market segment and become an expert.

“You might not reap the benefits overnight, but you will absolutely reap the benefits in years to come.

“Make yourself an expert to reap the benefits later.”

McAuley told Clia UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer that the luxury suppliers and agents must talk to a younger market with so much capacity in the sector scheduled for delivery.

Tony Roberts, Clia UK & Ireland chairman, earlier told delegates that he believed around 25% of the 100 ships on order were luxury vessels.

McAuley urged agents to take advantage of any opportunities to sail with a luxury which come their way as this would help them sell the product when back in their shop.