Understanding the mindset of new-to-cruise customers and how to appeal to them will be top of the agenda at a conference hosted by Abta next month.

The central London event on March 14 will cover how to attract a wider market to cruising without alienating existing customers.

Travel agents attending the one-day conference will also learn how to use technology to maximise bookings from first-time cruisers.

Abta says its Attracting First Time Cruisers Conference is “a unique opportunity for any travel agent selling cruises to learn from leaders in the cruise sector”.

Panellists will debate port infrastructure, the changing demographics in the industry and new products on the market.

Speakers will include: Stuart Leven, Clia UK and Ireland chairman and Royal Caribbean’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa; Sam Otter, Celebrity Cruises director of marketing and PR; and Peter Whittle, Traveltek global sales director.

Leven will give the opening address on the challenges and opportunities of attracting and reaching new customers to cruise.

He said: “We have an obligation to educate agents. Some make their living selling nothing but cruise, but we also have agents who sell five or 10% cruise. This kind of event is really geared towards them.”

He added:“Since we came out of the financial crisis cruise lines started building new products that grab press and attract attention. Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, MSC, P&O Cruises and a lot of river cruise lines amplify the reasons why you go on a cruise rather than a land-based holiday.”

According to Abta’s Travel Trends report, 14% of UK holidaymakers plan to take a cruise in the next year – almost double the number that went on a sailing in the previous year.

Nikki White, Abta’s director of destinations and sustainability, said: “Abta’s research shows the appetite for cruise travel exists outside of the already converted.

“This event will help delegates learn how to make cruises appeal to new demographics.”

When: March 14, 9.20am
Where: UK Chamber of Shipping, 30 Park Street, London

Stuart Leven, UK and Ireland chairman, Clia, and managing director and vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Royal Caribbean
Andy Harmer, Clia senior vice-president for membership
Sam Otter, director of marketing and PR, UK and Ireland, Celebrity Cruises
Sébastien Pichon, industry manager, travel, Google
Alistair Pritchard, lead partner, travel, Deloitte
Moderater: Nikki White, director of destinations and sustainability, Abta

Abta members £245 plus VAT
Non-members £365 plus VAT Group discounts apply

To book: abta.com/events