Agents must aim to grow their margins next year as volume growth slows in the cruise market, Carnival UK managing director David Dingle said at the VIP agent day on board P&O’s Ventura yesterday.
In 2009, agents should concentrate on retaining their commission by discounting less rather than selling a large number of cruises, he said.
“There will be more consolidation in 2009 rather than high growth. The industry will take a pause for breath and hopefully we will see agents gain confidence in retaining more commission – only they can do that, not us.”
The importance of the trade is increasing as people have more hectic lifestyles, he added.
“People have less time to research their options and they are willing to spend a lot of money to make sure their holiday is perfect.
“A trend is emerging towards more independent holidays,” he added. “People have a preconception that cruising is mass market, but we make sure each cruise holiday is catered to the individual,”
Meanwhile, head of sales for Complete Cruise Solutions Mark Pilkington assured agents selling the Ventura they would receive full support from P&O. There are 60 sales staff and 550 people in reservations and customer service serving the trade.
“We will be selling a lot of repeat cruises to customers onboard but we will always refer these to the agents who booked their original holiday. This is a great opportunity for them,” added Pilkington.