New Ships, More Sales

In this issue, Cruise Editor Marilyn Green takes a look at what we have to look forward to next year in river cruising By: Kenneth Shapiro

In this issue, Cruise Editor Marilyn Green takes a look at what we have to look forward to next year in river cruising. As you’ll read in “River Cruise Newbuilds for 2011," there’s no shortage of new ships taking to the water — all with exciting features that are sure to appeal to your clients. Clearly, the cruise lines are making a substantial investment in the future of river cruising, so it’s time for agents to follow their lead and invest in this future as well.

For travel agents, this investment will take the form of education about the intricacies of river cruising, and making this niche a key part of their business strategy. In fact, according to a recent study by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), too few agents are fully embracing this important travel category. The survey noted that about 65 percent of agents reported that clients showed an increased awareness of river cruising and nearly 40 percent said there was an increased demand from customers for river cruising. At the same time, however, agents stated that river cruising makes up 10 percent or less of their total cruise sales. This discrepancy seems to indicate that agents are not taking full advantage of the consumers’ interest.

“All the changes we’ve seen in the past few years have really elevated the product, and the marketing promotions all the lines are doing are certainly helping to drive the market as well,” said Guy Young, president of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, during a recent TravelAge West webinar. “I think river cruising is also a fantastic way to travel. It combines the best aspects of both escorted touring and ocean cruising, and that’s really hard to beat.”

I’ve often heard agents talk about the importance of new ships or new resorts or new tour itineraries as a way to stimulate interest in traveling. Well, clearly, the river cruise lines are doing their part to create more buzz; I hope agents take note of this and make it a growing part of their businesses too.

For the complete, archived version of the TravelAge West River Cruise Connection, visit www.tawrivercruiseconnection.com.
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