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Dwain Wall — who recently left his position as senior vice president of agency and trade relations for Cruise Lines International Association — is now co-president of WorldCruise.cn, a bilingual website that caters to Chinese-speaking customers worldwide. Based in Beijing, Wall sees the possibilities for American travel agents who want to partner with his company and reach the Chinese cruise market.
The website, which launched in March, is projected to be a game changer in the Chinese cruise industry. It provides extensive resources, offering information on 60-plus cruise lines in English and Chinese, with a team of translators working full-time at getting information online.
Furthermore, WorldCruise.cn sells in a variety of models: to the consumer, in partnership with businesses (such as banks) and through some of the 3 million travel consultants who work in China’s 1 million agencies.
In addition to sailings in designed for the Chinese, Wall’s company markets international cruises to the Chinese market, generally in packages with airfare, transfers and pre- and post-cruise land stays.
“Even though the Chinese tend to take much shorter cruises at home, when they travel internationally, it is typically for at least two weeks,” he said.
Wall believes that international cruises are going to be a robust market because of the limitations of cruising out of China, where the distance between ports of call is quite long.
“We’re the only such website for Chinese agents, who tend to stick with one or two brands because they feel comfortable using their education and booking systems, but that may not be the best thing for the consumer,” Wall added.
The Chinese pattern of travel in groups is already changing, according to Wall, with a 5 percent drop in group travel last year accompanying a corresponding rise in FIT bookings.
“The median age of the Chinese cruiser is younger,” Wall said. “The median age in the West is 49 to 50, while in China, it’s 39 to 40 years old. These younger cruisers are more willing to travel independently, and they are much more at home with technology — smartphones, apps, et cetera.”
Where are the opportunities for North American travel consultants? Wall sees a number of possibilities. For example, Crystal Cruises has been capitalizing for years on family reunions, bringing North American and Chinese branches of the same families on ships together.
Another growing market involves the many Chinese who send their children to top schools in the U.S.
When the parents travel far to visit their children, Wall says, they also want to take a vacation.
He also sees a fast-growing market in real estate in the cruise hubs of South Florida and Southern California, particularly for the Northern Chinese, who are drawn to the warm weather. Such clients feel more comfortable working through a Chinese language booking process when they take vacations.
“We would welcome any agencies with an interest in partnering with us, and we will work out the partnerships on a case-by-case basis, especially where there is a large concentration of Chinese-speaking people, such as San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle and New York,” Wall said.