Celebrity Cruises’ Giles Hawke tips another buoyant year for the sector
So here we are, nearly three weeks into the new year. I hope that all readers of Travel Weekly are seeing a strong start to the wave season (some people call it peaks, but we all know it’s really called wave!); that your cruise bookings are surpassing your expectations; and that you are breaking personal sales records.
We haven’t seen the official Clia figures for 2023 yet. If the reports of what all cruise lines have been saying are true, it looks like last year may well have been a new record for the cruise industry – that was certainly the case at Celebrity Cruises. So we all need wave to set the tone for the year ahead, to encourage people to book again and to spur the ‘yet to cruise’ to take their first holiday afloat and understand the amazing experience this type of holiday offers.
I have made a couple of new year resolutions in my personal life – cutting out caffeine, skiing more and removing the word “but” from my vocabulary – and I think there is an opportunity for us all to make some resolutions in our work life too.
One of the things I have noticed about most people’s resolutions, including a couple of mine, is that they are about stopping something which is seen as bad. Maybe we also all need some resolutions to start something new. For all the travel agents out there, I would suggest that one of your resolutions should be to make an effort to start selling more cruise holidays in 2024 – or to start in the first place, if you’ve never sold it.
Of course, I’m bound to say that as I work for an amazing cruise line! Yet think about this for a minute and you’ll see why it could be the best resolution you will make this year. Customer satisfaction on a cruise is higher than any other holiday type; repeat business in cruise is industry‑leading; and complaint ratios for cruise holidays are exceptionally low when a customer is sold the right sailing. The key to your success is product knowledge, understanding your customer and their holiday preferences, and choosing the right cruise for them.
The breadth of cruise holidays available is extensive, from mass-market, large-scale ships with an incredible range of facilities to six-star, ultra-luxury ships offering bespoke experiences tailored to each guest, all taking passengers to every corner of the world.
The inclusive nature of a cruise ensures excellent value for money, whether on a three-star or a six-star cruise, and the earning opportunities for you as an agent are excellent with so much being included in the fare. A cruise really is one of the most diverse holidays you can sell your customers.
Take our Asia programme, for example, a notoriously expensive region to travel to. Celebrity offers immersive experiences on a 12-night Best of Japan sailing on board Celebrity Millennium, allowing guests to experience all of Japan’s coastal highlights with the ease of unpacking once and no lengthy overland journeys, and expert guides on hand and no language barriers – it really is one of the best ways to experience this stunning region. Indeed, whatever part of the world your clients are looking to travel to this year, think cruise. It’s a win-win situation for both you and your client.
So, make that resolution now while wave is in full swing. Brush up on your product knowledge to ensure you have all the information at your fingertips and start suggesting a cruise to every customer who walks through your door, visits your website or calls your phone. It may be the best new year’s resolution you ever make.