Target the emerging baby boomer market and try to switch ocean cruisers on to river ships.

That is the message from APT’s chief commercial officer Debra Fox, who championed the benefits of people born between 1945 and 1963 to travel agents at the Clia River Cruise Conference in Paris.

Not only is the market segment the largest, it is set to double in size by 2025, she said.

“The baby boomer market is the largest market,” she said. “The majority of money they spend is on experiences and travel.

“We have this huge wave of people coming in over the next five to seven years that are right in the sweet spot to get into river cruising.

“That is a critical market to reach, connect to and really introduce to river cruise.”

On stage, Fox explained the baby boomer psyche to nearly 300 delegates, who were later challenged by AmaWaterways’ managing director Stuart Perl to help the sector hit 250,000 passengers by the end of 2019.

“[Emerging baby boomers] are the guys that I really do recommend that you are start talking to,” she added.

“They are currently in their 50s. They are wealthy, they are getting their parents’ inheritance, so we can spend it.

“They are living longer, chasing experiences and travel fulfils their need for discovery and they are in pursuit of freedom.”

Fox said research, carried out by APT, found that river cruise appealed to ocean passengers and there was “very high cross pollination” between the two sectors.

“We are seeing very high cross pollination between the two – in both directions,” she said. “They want the same things: hard to reach places, off the beaten track and river delivers on that.”

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