MSC Cruises pledges to maintain agent support levels for Wave period

MSC Cruises’ UK boss has promised to maintain investment levels in the trade to boost Wave season bookings as a “record-breaking” year for the line ends.

Despite a “challenging” first quarter, the line saw record booking volumes in the next six months to ensure 2022 was MSC’s best-ever year in the UK.

Antonio Paradiso, UK and Ireland managing director, revealed nearly 3,000 travel agents now sold MSC Cruises – up from just under 100 agents in 2016 – and ex-UK bookings accounted for 70% MSC’s UK business.

In 2019, ex-UK bookings represented 30% of the line’s UK business and fly-cruise was 70%, but in 2022 it was “completely the opposite”, Paradiso said.

Speaking ahead of the launch of MSC World Europa in Doha, Paradiso said: “We have had a record-breaking year. The first quarter was really challenging but now we have witnessed our best year in the UK after the second and third quarters.”

Paradiso said the UK was “barely in the top 10” source markets for MSC in 2016 when he first moved to the UK, but now it was in the top five.

“The UK is one of the markets with the fastest growth,” he added. “How do you fuel growth? By adding more capacity and by expanding the distribution network across the whole country.”

Asked about the line’s upcoming Wave campaign, Paradiso said: “We’ll invest in TV, media, and agents. It will be the same level of investment.

“By the end of December, you can usually tell that the Wave had started, but I foresee we’ll see similar volumes and trends to this from the third week of January. That’s my guess.”

“We just cannot predict when the wave season will start.”

He added: “I believe that there will be a bit of a [sales] gap between Christmas and Blue Monday (January 16). Time will tell.”

Paradiso confirmed 100 UK agents had been invited to attend World Europa’s naming ceremony on November 13.

Asked what criteria the line used to decide which agents to invite, Paradiso said: “We’re taking into account their support throughout the pandemic and their performance.

“They’ve been invited because they deserve it and it’s important that they see the ship.”

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