The UK boss of Silversea says travel agents need to be ready for a “really strong return” of cruising if key factors align in the coming weeks.
Peter Shanks, UK managing director of the luxury line, told Travel Weekly: “It’s becoming a given that going on a cruise will end up being one of the safest things you can do. We have a Healthy Sail Panel making sure of it, but there’s no healthy airline, healthy airport or healthy tour operator panel.”
He added: “With a bit of luck, the new protocols, plus an understanding from the Foreign Office in terms of cruising in the future, and an improvement in how the Covid virus is performing, will all come together. If it does, travel agents need to be ready for a really strong return. We don’t know when the moment will be, but we need to be ready.”
Silversea is planning to launch its summer 2022 and winter 2023 sailings early to be ready to capitalise on pent-up demand for cruising and is currently creating a series of digital brochures for key regions it sails to – The Mediterranean, the Galapagos, Northern Europe and Antarctica.
“All the brochures can be top and tailed by the individual agent so they can then send them out to their clients,” said Shanks.
He added that Silversea was also “dipping its toe in the water” creating its first piece of direct marketing for agents to overbrand and send out to their databases.
“One thing we value more than anything else is our agents’ databases, and one of the benefits of Covid is that everyone’s gone digital much quicker than they planned,” he said.
Shanks revealed Silversea was also revamping its training academy online and had launched a new initiative called Silver Life for past guests to join Zoom calls by invitation with cruise directors, crew and onboard chefs.
“Our loyal guests can’t get on our ships at the moment so this is a way of allowing them to do it remotely for the time-being,” he said.
Shanks pointed out that Silversea still had five new ships joining the fleet over the next three years, which will require him to more than double business from the UK market.
Silver Origin is ready to start sailing in the Galapagos, Silver Moon will enter service later this year, Silver Dawn will be delivered in September 2021 and the line’s two new evolution ships will arrive in 2022 and 2023.
“For this reason, our commitment to our travel agent partners is going to grow so we are doing everything we can to help agents recover,” he said.
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