Hollie-Rae Merrick spoke to Clia's river cruise committee chair ahead of this weekend's annual River Cruise Convention event in Amsterdam
Clia UK & Ireland’s annual River Cruise Convention is now in its fourth year, and each time it has grown in size, showcasing more ships to more agents.
This year’s event, taking place in Amsterdam this weekend, is the first to sell out. Almost 280 delegates, including more than 175 agents, will learn more about river cruise destinations, trends in the sector and the ships sailing waterways around the globe.
The conference, of which Travel Weekly is once again media partner, will showcase seven ships: A-Rosa Viva; CroisiEurope’s LaFayette; Scenic Opal; Amadeus Silver; Tauck’s Inspire; Uniworld’s River Empress; and AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto.
Lucia Rowe (pictured), Clia’s river cruise committee chair and UK head of sales for German line A-Rosa, says the event is the pinnacle of the river cruise calendar.
“The conference is an essential element of how Clia helps to educate agents on the variety in river cruising,” she says.
“Our job as Clia is to help agents to capitalise and grow their business, and we need to make sure we do the best job possible to teach them about destinations, our ships and each brand’s USPs.”
Rowe says most agents in the UK have yet to realise the earning potential and opportunities provided by the river cruise sector.
“We do need to reach more agents and show them everything the industry offers,” she adds.
“One thing we need to do better is compete against land-based holidays. We need to shout more about what makes us on the same level and why agents should be pushing our product forward.
“River cruising needs to come out of the shadow more.
“We need to break out from people thinking that river cruising is just for old people.”
Rowe says agents starting out in the river sector need to quickly realise how different the product is from ocean cruise.
“I think a lot of agents just assume it’s the same as ocean, which is crazy because the product is so different,” she says.
“It needs to be treated differently. Agents that I see thriving in river are doing so because they are investing in having a separate team that focuses purely on river.”
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