Travel Convention 2016: Thomson Cruises considers Asian itineraries

Thomson Cruises is actively considering entering Asia as its fleet expands and parent company Tui introduces more long range Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Tui UK & Ireland distribution and cruise director Helen Caron revealed the ambition as Thomson Cruises plans for the introduction of new ships to the fleet up to 2019.

Speaking at the Abta Travel Convention in Abu Dhabi, she said the line was “proactively” looking at options in Asia, potentially combined with new beach destinations to extend already popular cruise and stay options provided in the Mediterranean.

This came as Deloitte lead partner for travel, Alistair Pritchard, revealed the results of consumer research suggesting that cruisers of the future will be looking for “unique, customised and authentic” cruise experiences together with improved digital connectivity.

Cruise companies will also have to meet a growing demand for multi-generational holidaymakers, a demographic from the UK that is projected to grow by one million to 2.5 million by 2025.

This will require lines to be providing activities and entertainment for all generations while at the same time continuing to work to overcome the perception that cruises are only for old people.

The majority of consumers believe cruises are difficult to book online and they don’t want to be off-line when they are on board ship.

Thomson Cruises is moving to attract more new to cruise customers by going all inclusive from next summer as well as running social media campaigns to highlight elements of cultural and beach destinations that consumers would not normally associate with cruise holidays.

“Part of the industry challenge is to encourage more people to book online. We must make it easier,” Caron said.

When challenged by an agent in the audience, she added that Thomson Cruises’ focus was to enable customers to book when they want to book and to provide the tools to agents to make it easier for consumers.

“The high street is very important to us for new to cruise passengers,” she stressed.

Princess Cruises UK and Europe vice president Tony Roberts said the company’s focus on broadcast media through The Cruise TV documentary had doubled brochure enquiries and boosted the number of brand-related searches on Google.

A-Rosa UK & Ireland head of sales Lucia Rowe described the trade as being “critical” to the river cruise brand while Silversea UK commercial director Lisa McAuley said the trade was “100 per cent essential” with price parity “a given”.

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