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World cruises have long been high-ticket items for travel agents. Personally, I’ve always liked the romantic appeal of sailing leisurely around the world in high style when I get older — a man without an address, a citizen of the world. But as you can read in our cover story, “A Whole New World,” these cruises are not as passive as they may have once been. Today, active — often younger — world cruisers are sailing the high seas to chase new experiences and check places off their bucket lists. Suppliers, in turn, are responding by putting together creative itineraries, combining ocean and land segments and more.
One of the driving forces for the change in world cruising is travelers’ desire to see more of the world. While shipboard amenities are still important, exotic itineraries that hold the promise of unique experiences are sure to get clients excited.
In “Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go 2016,” a study published last month by research firm Phocuswright, 75 percent of U.S. travelers say they want to travel as much of the world as possible in their lifetime. But they’re discerning: Almost 80 percent of respondents conduct online research on multiple websites prior to settling on a vacation destination. Consumers clearly invest a lot of time in deciding where they want to go next in their quest to see the world.
Travel agents can help clients with this decision process by using their expertise to refine the client’s destination choices. Focusing first on authentic ways to experience a place — rather than on the level of luxury provided by a particular supplier, or even before brand loyalty, for instance — makes more sense given today’s consumer mindset.
Luckily, travelers are more determined than ever to hit the road. Phocuswright’s report also shows that nearly 40 percent of respondents plan to travel more and farther in future trips than they did previously. Wanderlust is alive and well it seems, so let’s hope that agents reap the benefits.
(Editor’s note: Phocuswright and TravelAge West are owned by the same parent company.)