River cruise toolkit created for The Personal Travel Agents

A bespoke river cruise toolkit to boost sales has been introduced for The Personal Travel Agents’ homeworkers.

The Midcounties Co-operative group sees the sector as an area of “significant untapped potential”.

The toolkit has been developed by business development manager Claire Willoughby after spotting a gap in the market for the independent homeworking channel. 

This is the first time that the PTAs has developed a bespoke toolkit for a specific market sector.

The initiative was disclosed at the group’s first conference on a ship, held in Paris on board Uniworld’s Joie de Vivre and attended by 80 agents.

One PTA, Julie Birch, made a £10,000 booking to Cambodia, Vietnam and the Mekong with Uniworld, following a centrally generated social media post by The PTAs’ marketing team that she shared with her followers prior to the toolkit being developed.

Willoughby said: “The river cruise market is booming and, whilst the PTAs sell a lot of ocean cruises, the river cruise sector remains an area of significant untapped potential.

“One in 12 of The PTAs’ customers made a cruse booking this year and sales of ocean cruises in 2023 increased by 42% on 2022.

“The mid-market cruise product is clearly performing well, but there’s an opportunity for the PTAs to sell more upscale cruise and river cruise product, and the toolkit will help them to do just that.

“The river cruise product aligns perfectly with the profile of the PTAs’ customers. The ships are floating boutique hotels, and river cruising is a great alternative for customers who traditionally enjoy a city break, for example, because the ports of call are usually right in the centre of the town or city, meaning no lengthy transfers. They also offer great value for money with so much included.”

Head of the PTAs Sheena Whittle said: “We’re extremely proud of the toolkit, which has received high praise from the independent homeworkers as well as the river cruise partners we have demonstrated it to.” 

A group of 24 agents are attending the Clia Riverview conference in March as part of the focus.

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