Travel Weekly’s ten ‘agent reporters’ will be giving us their perspective on the Travel Convention 2010 throughout the event

The cruise forum was an extremely positive affirmation that the demand for cruise holidays is still strong, even in a recession. In 2010 the cruise industry will have seen a 7% increase in numbers, and an 8% rise is predicted for 2011.

Bob Sharak of CLIA commented that there are currently just over 200 cruise ships in the industry, 130 of which have been christened in the last ten years. This in itself shows the rapid growth of the sector.

At present only 1% of the UK population have cruised before and therefore the scope to increase these impressive results still exists.

The was a debate entitled “ Innovation vs, Traditional Service” with Giles Hawke from Carnival UK standing his ground in his belief that customers do not need proper tickets with leather wallets. However, a lot of the audience felt that their customers did in fact want this – which leaves agents covering additional costs themselves.

From a personal point of view I was delighted that the experts all felt that social media was an extremely important part of the sales process and one that will become more important as 70% of customers use the web to research their cruise pre-purchase.

The last session was very interesting as it covered the different areas in which a cruise customer can consider. River Cruising, Luxury, Niche & Mainstream. All the speakers gave a well rounded speech on their sector and it confirmed to me the importance of selling the right cruise to the right customer.