CLIA Travel Agents Cite River Cruises as a Trend Appealing to “New to Cruise” Travelers
According to the latest Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report, river cruises are currently one of the hottest trends in the cruise industry. In fact, nearly four out of five travel agents (79 percent) stated a river cruise is a great way to introduce “new to cruise” travelers to cruising.
Agents further remarked, river cruises are ideal for clients looking for new or different experiences, smaller ships, destination immersion and a relaxed way to see Europe. As a result, Europe is seeing an uptick in popularity.
River cruises in Europe have seen a 53 percent year-over-year growth to eastern waterways (Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Elbe) and a 30 percent growth to western channels (Soane, Seine, Loire) as well as a 24 percent growth to the south (Douro, Rhone, Dordogne, Garonne, Po).
“The results of last quarter’s survey were no surprise,” reports Rob Huffman, Vice President Sales, USA, Scenic Group. “We’ve seen tremendous growth for both of our river cruise brands – Scenic and Emerald Waterways – on the traditional European routes like the Danube, as well as on newer routes like the Douro.”
Additional Travel Agent Cruise Industry Report Findings:
Cruise Bookings and Spending Soar – Four out of five travel agents (84 percent) stated bookings are up when compared to last year. Additionally, 83 percent reported spending is up, as well. More than a quarter of agents (28 percent) reported clients are spending greater than 10 percent more than one year ago.
Alaska Reigns – Alaska has been consistently the top growth destination for the last three years of the report. More than two-thirds of travel agents (67 percent) reported seeing increased interest in the Northern-most U.S. state. Alaska has gained an even wider margin than in the past. “Alaska is selling like crazy right now and families are liking the big ships traveling to Alaska,” reports Amy Madson of Cruise Inc.
Destination Interest Up Double Digits – Some cruise destinations have seen a double-digit spike in interest from just a year ago. In Mediterranean Europe increased interest has jumped from 25 percent to 42 percent (up 17 percent) over the past year. South America has seen growth in interest from just nine percent last year to 20 percent.
Travel Agent Knowledge and Advocacy – Overwhelmingly, travel agents stated the most beneficial attribute for travel clients is the ability to providing valuable experience and product knowledge (86 percent). Agents also reported another travel agent benefit is the ability to leverage relationships and expertise if something goes wrong (81 percent).
The full report is available at: https://cruising.org/-/media/ta-outlook/travel-agent-cruise-industry-outlook-december-2018.pdf