Posted by Rob Sinclair Barnes (Marketing Director, Amadeus UK & Ireland)
With the Passenger Shipping Association figures showing over 1.8 million cruise passengers in 2012, cruise holidays are a crucial part of the travel economy in Britain. At Amadeus, we’re committed to doing everything we can to help our travel partners capitalise on the popularity of these types of holidays, which is why we’ve just launched Amadeus Cruise Shop product in the UK, to help agents provide a superior service to travellers.
To coincide with the launch of Amadeus Cruise Shop, we’ve conducted research around attitudes to cruise holidays in the UK.
Opportunities for agents look significant in 2013 and beyond, with 8% of UK adults reporting that they may book a cruise holiday in the next 12 months. The Caribbean is at the top of the list of dream destinations: asked where they would most like to go on a cruise holiday from a given list, if money were no object, just over a fifth of people (21%) chose the Caribbean; 15% the South Pacific and Australia; and 11% the Mediterranean.
And there are indications that travellers could be tempted to swap their land-based holiday for one at sea. A third of people (32%) would be tempted to go on a cruise holiday if they were of lower or comparable cost to an all-inclusive holiday. The survey indicates a clear desire amongst UK adults to wake up in a new place almost every day, with 29% selecting this as something that would tempt them to choose a cruise. Something agents can capitalise on as almost uniquely the domain of cruise holidays.
Particularly heartening for agents should be the fact that media coverage of recent incidents involving cruise liners, such as the partial sinking of the Costa Concordia in 2012 and sporadic yet well publicised outbreaks of norovirus, has had little impact on the majority of holidaymakers. Just over two fifths (41%) of people who hadn’t ruled out a cruise holiday beforehand said the media coverage hasn’t put them off and they would still consider this a holiday option. 8% of all UK respondents said they weren’t aware of any media coverage of issues on cruise holiday.
However, price is a key issue: four in ten (40%) people surveyed said that they perceive cruises are too expensive, and this puts them going off going on a cruise holiday. Additional costs, such as drinks and tips for staff, were of concern to some.
There is also quite a disconnect in travellers’ perceptions of cruise as compared to the reality. Those of us in the industry are well aware of the multitude of options available to cruise holidaymakers, from the size of the ships to the destinations and the types of people you’re likely to find on board. However, our research shows that nearly half of people (46%) think that a cruise holiday is most suited to older people aged 65+. 29% think that cruise holidays are most suited to couples without children; and just 6% think cruise holidays are most suited to a family with children.
People are largely realistic when it comes to how much a cruise holiday costs: 29% of people would expect to pay more than £1,000 and up to £1,500 per person for a 7 night cruise to the Caribbean, whilst 38% think that a Mediterranean cruise costs more than £500 and up to £1,000.
These perceptions show that there are still plenty of opportunities for cruise providers and sellers to communicate the various offerings more effectively: there’s a prevalent opinion that cruise holidays are for the older traveller, and that they’re expensive – despite sustained efforts by the industry to broaden its appeal to a younger clientele, where value for money is a key criteria.
That’s where we see huge value in providing smarter technology, such as the new Amadeus Cruise Shop. It has been designed to help cruise sellers clearly communicate about what is available and tailor the shopping experience based on the diverse needs of individual travellers.