Ambassador Cruise Line’s trade sales team has approached more than half of the country’s cruise-selling travel agents in the past five weeks and attracted more than 800 trade sign-ups to a micro website designed to encourage engagement.
The site, which launched last month, was set up to introduce the brand and the new line’s 33 ex-UK itineraries from its maiden programme without pricing to the trade.
Chief commercial officer Chris Coates claimed Ambassador had contacted between 60% to 65% of cruise-selling agents in the UK about the line and the benefits available to them.
Coates told Travel Weekly: “We encouraged the trade and customers to sign up and we’ve already exceeded 20,000 registrations from the consumers and more than 800 trade registrations.
“There is huge appetite for this despite where the trade has been for the last 15 months. This is a brand-new opportunity. There is a big gap in the ex-UK, no-fly cruise market in 2022.”
He added: “There is a lot of aspirational buying for the future in cruising holidays. There is a great selection of longer and shorter itineraries in the programme.
“In the silver travel market there has always been a leaning towards ex-UK cruising versus fly-cruising. In the short term, we do have a very attractive programme that is hassle-free. We’re trying to offer a premium level of service.”
A five-person trade sales team – led by former head of trade sales Lisa Jacobs, former Cruise & Maritime Voyages sales director – was recruited earlier this year.
A training presentation has been shown to agents in recent weeks, added Coates.
He said: “We are working on an online training portal which will probably be available in Q3. We’ve got a whole range of cooperative marketing deals for travel agents.
“While some agents have been in hibernation over recent months, we are seeing some that want to engage with us in terms of a marketing perspective which is very encouraging.”
A 68-page brochure will be delivered to travel agents on Thursday. More than 2,500 agents who have expressed an interest in working with the line will receive a file copy of the brochure. A national advertising begins this weekend, according to Coates.
Chief executive Christian Verhounig (pictured) said: “What’s important is, yes, it’s a new launch and new cruise line but we’ve received a lot of consumer research and feedback.
“The core is we came up with Ambassador Cruise Line, concentrating on specific market we’re age-inclusive around the 50-plus market. Consumer research has told us that there are guests that are looking to celebrate a maritime traditional experience on board but not to be forced to dress up on board.”
Verhounig, the former chief executive of Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), said the ship has space for 2,000 passengers but the line is “limiting” numbers to 1,400 passengers.
Coates, who also used to work for CMV, said that limiting the numbers would offer a “better customer experience” on board. “With the current Covid-19 situation, it gives a bit more flexibility regarding social distancing on the ship.
“Obviously, spring 2022 is a long way away. We’re going to be following government guidelines along the way and limiting the passenger levels is a conscious decision we have made as a business, and we know that it is going to enhance the guest experience.”
“All of our decisions show how we are here for the long haul,” Verhounig said. “What we’re concentrating on is sustainability. We are starting next year so we can upgrade the vessel to bring it in line with the latest environmental standards.
“As a business we have an obligation to look after the world. Our guests may not have [sustainability] at the forefront of their minds, but they do have to justify their holiday and destination to their children and grandchildren. This is a topic that is coming up and it is good practice.
“Every company needs to be a part of it. The cruise industry is one that has diversity written all over it.”
Verhounig said the line was looking at giving crew sustainable uniforms.