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Online specialist Cruise.co.uk hosted cruise line bosses at its 10th annual sales conference. Hollie-Rae Merrick and Lucy Huxley report from Villars, Switzerland
Cruise.co.uk has introduced three types of packages to encourage more sales of tailor-made and unique holidays.
The online travel agency’s new ranges are Bucket List Cruises, Tailormade and Smarter Packages.
Managing director Seamus Conlon said the agency’s own cruise packages now accounted for 30% of all sales. The rest is cruise-only and fly-cruise product as provided by cruise lines.
Currently, the agency’s Bucket List range features 30 sailings, typically costing about £5,000, and 200 sailings in its Tailormade category. The Smarter Packages range, which went live on the Cruise.co.uk website only last month, features 2,000 cruises, a figure that will rise to 3,000 by the end of the year.
Conlon said: “The Smarter Packages range now dominates our search listings. We aren’t interested in selling cheap cruises. Our packages will never be cheaper than the cruise lines’ price, but they will include transfers, luggage arrangements and hotel stays.
“We have a limited number of consultants so we don’t want them selling the cheaper cruises when they could be selling something at a higher price with more value for the customer.”
Head of international expansion Sukie Rapal added: “On a lot of cruise lines’ websites you can add a flight and that’s it. But by offering these packages we can add value.
“We are using a select number of hotels that we know are really good.
“These packages are working well and we’ll be adding more over the year.
“Our strategy isn’t to sell cheap because our customers want these extra elements, so we’re just offering it all in one for them.”
Firm vows to be biggest river cruise agent in UK
Cruise.co.uk aims to become the biggest river cruise agent in the country.
The online agency previously had its own standalone river site but is now gradually switching the content to the main website, which has a greater audience.
The river cruise deals, reviews and other content will be live by May.
Managing director Seamus Conlon said: “Our focus for the year is to grow internationally and we are also really stepping up what we do with river.
“We plan to be the largest river cruise agent in the UK and by 2018 I’d like to see it making up 10% of our business.”
Currently, 4% of Cruise.co.uk’s sales are for river cruises.
Sukie Rapal, who leads the agency’s international growth, said: “We will have more of a blitz on river content in the coming months which will then be loaded on to the new site.”
Homeworkers' blogs 'key to repeat sales'
The social media community built up by Cruise.co.uk’s homeworkers has helped ensure the agency has a high number of repeat customers, according to boss Seamus Conlon.
The agency’s 120 consultants write blogs and post on social media, and last year their blogs were read 1.5 million times.
Conlon said: “Those blogs are key to showing our consultants are real people, honest and transparent. We have the highest repeat factor: 65% of those who booked with us last year had booked with us at some point over the four years prior.
“Our competitors are in the region of 20-30% but we are at the same level as Audley Travel or Travel Counsellors.
“A key focus is the high service level, so people can build a relationship with our staff and interact with them, rather than a faceless call centre.”
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