The travel industry must stop selling cruise as a “commodity”, and instead emphasise the enriching experiences it offers, Ace Columbus Day heard.
Fraser Ellacott, who joined Thomson Cruises as managing director 18 months ago after spending 20 years in aviation, said that while flights have become more of a commodity, cruises should avoid being seen as such.
“One thing we are not is a commodity,” said Ellacott. “I think we are possibly guilty of selling it as a commodity and that’s so wrong.”
He called on the industry to highlight the value of cruises and to convey the message that cruise is an enriching, fulfilling experience.
Before joining the cruise industry, Ellacott admitted he had thought of cruise as “only for newly-weds or nearly deads”, but said he had “fundamentally changed” his opinion over the last 18 months.
But although he praised the industry for its efforts in changing the dated perceptions of cruise, he said that the image is still there.
Ellacott also talked about safety standards on cruises.
“I was very impressed with how safety-conscious the cruise industry is,” he said. “Aviation is the most regulated business in the world, and has the strictest safety standards.”
“Cruise does as well,” Ellacott continued, but added that the industry still has lessons to learn from the Costa Concordia tragedy.
Customers are changing, the Thomson Cruises managing director then told the audience, and with the fastest-growing demographic on social networking being older people, or ‘silver surfers’, the travel industry must change with them.
“60s are the new 50s, 50s are the new 40s,” said Ellacott. “It’s not the same traditional cruise.”
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