The Co-operative Travel Group plans to launch an umbrella cruise brand across its retailers to offer a “joined up” approach to cruise sales for the first time.


The brand will not replace its existing specialist businesses, including Cumbria Cruise Club and Instant Cruise Holidays, but will showcase its family of cruise brands.


As part of the move the group is creating its first head of cruise role, with responsibility for commercial, sales and marketing activity across its distribution channels.


There is also likely to be a greater focus on selling cruise through The Co-operative Travel agencies to increase the group’s share of the cruise market.


Director of commercial Shaun Hinds said: “We have shops, homeworkers, call centres and websites selling cruise. We want to bring these channels together into a single marketing plan for cruise.”


The strategy will involve increasing consumer awareness of the group’s cruise brands through direct marketing and using the combined database more effectively.


“At the moment we run the risk of loyal customers going into our shops and then going to a competitor’s brand to upgrade their cruise experience,” he said.


“We are not understanding what makes them decide where they are going to buy their next cruise from.”


The group will take a more “centralised” approach to suppliers to create stronger partnerships with cruiselines with more shared objectives.


Hinds denied the motive was to increase commissions and instead claimed the move could lead to less discounting and more “honest” pricing.


“We are interested in retained earnings and, as an industry, we have to understand what the discounting culture is doing to the sector. We want to use discounts where relevant but we also want to sell more cruises and this could mean retaining more earnings and not giving it all away.”