ACE: Cruise sector urged to hold nerve on pricing

ACE: Cruise sector urged to hold nerve on pricing

Price is not the deciding factor for customers considering booking a cruise and agents and operators have been advised to keep their nerve in what is looking like a very late market.

Although there are some incredibly cheap deals already in the marketplace cruiseline bosses at this week's sixth UK Cruise Convention warned against overly aggressive discounting to drive demand for bookings this summer.

Giles Hawke, Carnival UK sales director, told Travel Weekly: "When you look at 2012 lates we are finding the price does not need to go as low as you might think to drive demand. We have been able to keep our pricing higher than this time last year.

"It's not that people will not go on holiday, but we are seeing people want some degree of certainty in their own personal situation. When people are ready to book it may be a bit later but it's not necessarily about how cheap it is."

Paul Ludlow, Princess Cruises' UK managing director, said agents who are close to their customers should know when is the right time to offer them a deal that will entice them to book.

"Agents know their customers better than anybody; they know their previous holiday choices, their economic situation.

“If they engage throughout the year they can target them with the right product at the right time. The misperception is it's just about price.

“It's actually about being in front of the customer at the point of them making that purchase decision. It might be that they have not seen that particular destination marketed them before on that way so it's the timing as much as it is the price."

Fred Olsen sales and marketing director Nathan Philpot also urged other cruise operators not to be overly aggressive on pricing in what is proving to be a very late market.

“We have all got to try to hold our nerve to keep pricing up and appreciate it’s a late booking market.

“Yes the business will come, but there has been a shift to the booking patterns. Look at the figures now and it looks down because the bookings have not come in yet, but it’s just a different curve.”

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