Niche cruiseline Hurtigruten has held prices in its largest winter programme to date as part of an ambitious strategy to increase trade sales.
The cruiseline has more than doubled capacity for the winter 2008/2009 season and launched its biggest ever Northern Lights programme. The lead-in price of £395 is the same as last winter’s lead-in price.
Head of commercial Kathryn Beadle said the cruiseline was absorbing extra costs in a difficult economic climate in order to keep prices competitive and boost sales through agents.
She added: “We have held prices down mainly because we want to get winter business in and prices remain key when you take into consideration the fuel surcharge and the exchange rate with the Norwegian kroner.”
Beadle said the increase in capacity was an opportunity for agents to sell more soft adventure winter cruises. The cruiseline plans to work more proactively with agents on joint promotions and advertisting campaigns and has contacted all ABTA agents to invite requests for promotions.
The brochure includes a DVD for agents to show customers. New product includes an onboard programme of lectures, fun activities and optional excursions called Hunting the Lights, an extended winter snowbomobile safari with two nights in the new Spitsbergen Expedition Lodge in Brentskardet, and a Lapland Adventure itinerary.
The cruiseline currently gets half of its business direct from consumers but is targeting 80% of business from the trade and 20% direct.
Meanwhile, Beadle said few agents and customers were aware that the average age for holidaymakers is now under 50 for Hurtigruten’s winter programme, in part because it includes many soft-adventure itineraries. “Many people think Hurtigruten cruises are something older people do, which is true for summer but in winter it’s a very different profile,” she added.