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Cruise Club: TW follows five travel agents in search of cruise sales – 12 Jan 2007

With 2007 being billed as another big year for cruise Travel Weekly has recruited five travel agencies who are either newcomers to the cruise market or are looking for significant growth in 2007.

Travel Weekly will track the progress of these agencies through 2007, from the busy early-year booking period into 2008.

 

Americas4u

Americas4u logoPSARA member: Yes
Cruise sales (% of overall business): 8%, or £250,000 annual turnover
Number of staff: 9
Type of business: Call centre and online
Growth target for cruise in 2007: Grow to 25% of turnover

Americas4u director Andy WinstanleyAmericas4u is hoping to use its US expertise to expand its cruise business with the launch of website click4cruise.co.uk later this year.

The stand-alone cruise website will follow the introduction of click4holiday.co.uk, a worldwide dynamic packaging site that will contain a cruise element.

However, (pictured) said the level of development in technology in the cruise sector removes the need for direct online booking.

“From the bespoke American perspective, we have realised there is correlation between existing clients and potential cruise clients.

“We have already got a client base that sits quite nicely with what we are doing. We are keen to focus on dynamic packaging, tying in cruising with our own flights,” Winstanley said.

The agency started advertising cruises on Teletext in September 2006. One member of staff has a US Master Mariner qualification and has been on more than 60 cruises.

The agency joined the Passenger Shipping Association Retail Agents scheme in November, and some staff have attended the association’s essential and dynamics training course. It plans to undertake more training in early 2007.

 

Travel and More, formerly Flight Finders Worldwide

Travel and More logoPSARA member: Yes
Cruise sales (% of overall business): 5%-10% of £2 million turnover
Number of staff: 5
Type of business: Telesales and online, with an off high street retail unit
Growth target for cruise in 2007: To double it

Laura Donaldson, cruise specialist, Travel and MoreFlight Finders Worldchoice underwent a revamp before Christmas, changing its name to Travel and More and launching morebeds.com – a new dynamic packaging website for agents.

Managing director Alan Holt is about to relocate to Dubai, and fellow director Kevin Dowling will run the UK operation alongside Laura Donaldson (pictured), who will now lead the development of Travel and More’s cruise business.

“The cruise industry is growing vastly, and that’s why we have decided to grab a bit of the market. We don’t sell as much cruise as we would like, so we have joined PSARA and gone along to training days and meetings to gather information,” she said.

The agency has some repeat Silversea customers who have come via recommendations, and a small number of customers who have previously holidayed with Royal Caribbean International and Carnival.

A new travelandmore.co.uk website that will feature cruise is due to launch in April. The agency also plans to invest in press advertising and recruit a sixth member of staff.

 

Ultimate Destinations

Ultimate Destinations logoPSARA member: Yes
Cruise sales (% of overall business): Around 5%
Number of staff: 3
Type of business: High street independent member of Hayes Independent Group
Growth target for cruise in 2007: To grow to at least 15%

Ultimate Destinations managing director Alan HaynesUltimate Destinations managing director Alan Haynes (pictured) is hoping to establish a reputation for cruise retail in an affluent area of the UK.

The Hertfordshire agency has seen cruise bookings rise significantly in recent months, and forward bookings for cruise now outperform those for traditional land-based holidays.

Haynes believes this is a sign of the growing popularity of cruising in the UK, and is taking steps to improve his cruise knowledge.

The agency has taken a number of group bookings and has two or three ongoing enquiries.

“Hopefully we can establish a reputation as a really good cruise agency,” Haynes said. “If we can increase our percentage of cruise it will have a good effect on overall turnover.”

Haynes is about to advertise his agency as a cruise specialist in a local community magazine.

 

Thomas Cook: Wufrun Square, Wolverhampton

Cruise Thomas Cook logoPSARA member: No
Cruise sales as % of overall business: 13% (up from 5% in 2005)
Number of staff: 14 in total, 9 of which sell cruise
Type of business: High street multiple
Growth target for cruise in 2007: To increase it by around a third

Thomas Cook Wufrun Square store manager Kate FellowsDeveloping cruise business is seen as vital for this branch of Thomas Cook as sales of other holiday products move to other channels.

Store manager Kate Fellows (pictured) believes cruise customers still demand face-to-face contact with a trusted consultant and the store has two agents leading the push for more sales in 2007.

Further support will come from Thomas Cook’s regional sales manager and its Cruise Academy, through which the store’s staff has trained to level one, underpinning the new Cruise Thomas Cook brand.

Fellows said: “When customers trust a consultant, they come back. We have higher-than-average repeat customer rates because we have had good staff retention. My top seller has been here 16 years.”

The store has a World Travel Lounge where appointments with potential cruise customers can be arranged out of normal office hours.

 

Andrew Fox, Future Travel homeworker

Future Travel logoPSARA member: Yes
Cruise sales (% of overall business): Around 10%
Number of staff: 1
Type of business: Homeworker
Growth target for cruise in 2007: To increase it by 200% (20 to 30 bookings)

Future Travel homeworker Andrew FoxFuture Travel homeworker hopes his own experience of cruising will help him boost his business in 2007.

Formerly a high street agency owner, Fox has sailed with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Costa Cruises as well as on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

However, Fox still plans to attend training courses to keep him up to date with the latest developments as he targets huge growth from a low starting point.

“Cruising is the fastest growing market. From a selling point of view repeat business is terrific and the quality of the product is probably second to none,” he said.

Fox hopes to make use of Co-op-owned Future Travel’s buying power to access ‘bread-and-butter’ product such as P&O Cruises, but he also believes there is scope to build a niche market with cruiselines such as Voyages of Discovery and cruise-and-stay product in Canada, the US and Australasia.

Fox believes York offers fruitful opportunities for cruise customers and plans to target people who are used to taking land-based holidays in places like the Canaries and willing to spend extra for quality product.

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