CroisiEurope plans to almost double the number of agent places available on fam trips this year as the French cruise line looks to build on last year’s 20% rise in trade bookings.

The line is aiming for 150 agents – up from 80 last year – to join fam trips, have an increased presence at agent roadshows and offer an online training programme which is due in the second half of the year.

Fam trips will include at least one night on board a CroisiEurope ship.

Agents who book 10 passengers before January 31 will receive a complimentary cabin on a five-day river cruise on the Seine, the Danube, in Venice or on the Garonne in Bordeaux.

John Fair, who became the line’s first UK sales director in 2018, said a decision will be made after wave about whether to recruit on-the-road sales staff.

He said: “The trade is hugely important to CroisiEurope and its imperative that we do all that we can to support them and reward them for their loyalty.

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“We are very keen to foster great agent relationships and that can only happen by going the extra mile to turn what is a great opportunity into sales growth.

“I’m confident that by increasing the focus on our trade activity further and building on the great progress already made over the last two years, this will have a huge impact on our 2020 sales and beyond.”

He also added: “In the last two years we have grown significantly. We had a 20% rise in trade bookings last year and 15% the year before.

“The trade is now bigger than our direct business. We do sell direct with price parity but our focus is the trade.

“We have got significantly more partners than we ever had before – but there are people that we do not work with.”

Fair revealed he is looking to confirm commercial terms with Hays Travel Independence Group and Advantage Travel Partnership this year.

Trade sales currently make up 55% of CroisiEurope’s business, Fair added.

“There has been a swing towards trade sales over the last few years and that is where we want to be,” he said.