GoCruise is seeking to increase booking figures this year by boosting its social media and marketing activity after a “difficult 2013”.

Geoff Ridgeon, head of cruise at Fred Olsen Travel, the parent company of franchise agency GoCruise, said bookings hadn’t increased as much as he had hoped in 2013.

However, he said the average selling price and margins had held up well due to upselling by franchisees.

Ridgeon told delegates: “2013 was a difficult year, but there were many good points – we had great margins, we had great booking value and we upsold a lot.

“However, we struggled with certain areas of mainstream volume and that is something that we are planning to reverse in 2014.

“We will incorporate additional marketing plans to drive back the volume that seemed to elude us and some other agencies in 2013.

“The business we did was very good business, but we would like to see those booking volumes grow.”

He said a new booking system being introduced to make the process easier for franchisees would help achieve this.

A combination of financial support for franchisees for marketing and a focus on online promotion and social media will also help to drive bookings by creating new routes to market, according to Ridgeon.

He said: “We have made a number of improvements and enhancements to the way GoCruise operates and the support we give.

“We will have more of a focus on online promotion and social media to help drive more traffic to franchisees’ websites.”

Mainstream cruise sales remained “hugely important” to GoCruise franchisees, but Ridgeon said he saw potential in the river, niche and expedition sectors where volumes are lower but the earning potential can be greater.