Hays Travel targets ‘huge’ growth in cruise bookings

Hays Travel has revealed it wants cruise bookings to account for a third of its business in the next couple of years, which would represent “huge” growth.

Before the pandemic, according to Dame Irene Hays, the proportion of business represented by cruise was “low double-digits”.

But now the agency is targeting major sales growth, Hays (pictured) told Travel Weekly.

More: Hays Travel reports record January and February sales

“We think it’s reasonable over the next couple of years to increase [cruise] to 33%,” Hays said. “But to go from where we were to 33% is huge.”

Hays said the aim is based on several factors, including the rising number of ships entering the market.

“We believe the value for money on a cruise is exceptional and we know that significant numbers of the British travelling public have never been on a cruise,” said Hays.

“And the third factor would be the number of cruise ships coming into the market means there’s more capacity. So those three factors are why we think cruise is good for our customers, but we also think it’s good for Hays Travel.”

The agency is already working “very well” with a range of cruise lines, said Hays, as a result of its distribution channels.

“We’ve got more distribution than anybody else,” Hays said, referring to retail stores, the homeworking divisions and Hays Travel Independence Group members.

Hays Travel currently has a total of 467 shops, Hays said, but the figure is set to rise.

“We’re opening more shops as we speak in various locations,” Hays said. “We’re looking to grow both by acquiring other businesses and organically by opening shops where we think there’s an opportunity for travel.”

Meanwhile, the ancillary side of business is also “going really well” following the appointment of Louise Winter as business development manager for ancillary sales.

Hays said: “We were delighted to appoint Louise to the role and she’s had a significant impact in the early weeks and we look forward to that growing.”

Chief operating officer Jonathan Woodall-Johnston gave an update on foreign exchange, saying the area has been “performing exceptionally well”.

“We see a huge opportunity with foreign exchange,” he said, adding that there are currently more than 200 foreign exchange specialists, with around 70 vacancies.

On Wednesday, June 14, Carnival Cruise Line ran a “takeover” at Hays Travel’s head office in Sunderland, with training provided as well as fun activities, food and drink.

“Getting a major brand such as Carnival to come to our head office is really important and we’re very grateful that they’ve done it,” Hays said.

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