Q&A: Iain Baillie, vice president, UK & international sales, Carnival Cruise Line

Iain Baillie

How long have you worked in your current role and what attracted you to it?

One year, although I’ve spent the last 16 years working in the cruise industry. I’ve always enjoyed working with the travel trade in the UK and on an international level, so this role really appealed to me.

What do you like best about the cruise industry?

Cruise is one of the fastest-growing sectors, which I find incredibly exciting. Although we have barely scratched the surface, there is already such a variety of product available and huge potential with forward growth. This is the golden age of cruising and there’s never been a better time to work within the industry.

What makes Carnival stand apart from other cruise lines?

Our guests love us because we’re fun and informal with a ‘come as you are’ style off ering. Over fi ve million guests cruise with us each year, making us the world’s most popular cruise line, so we’re obviously doing something right!

What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months?

Growing our share of the business in both the UK and international markets through a continuation of close travel agent partnerships. I’m also excited about increasing brand awareness through our new ship, Carnival Horizon, which launches in April 2018 and is on sale now.

How has the cruise market changed in the last 10 years?

We’ve seen a broadening of the age demographic thanks to new, modern ships with exciting facilities and more choice, which has helped increase repeat business and attract new-to-cruise rookies. In addition, smarter technology is helping to heighten the guest experience.

What is the target market of your company?

Carnival thinks about targeting in psychographic terms. Our guests share Carnival’s values of participatory fun, authenticity and accessibility.

What percentage of growth are you targeting from UK & Ireland customers each year?

We continue to grow our business from the UK & Ireland markets year on year, and this is down to stronger relationships with travel agents, their desire to learn more about the brand and then relaying that knowledge to their clients.

What is the biggest challenge facing cruise sales?

Getting consumers to try a cruise for the first time – it’s also incredibly important that they book a cruise that’s right for them and this is where agents play a role.

How does Carnival work with the travel trade?

This year we launched Travel Agents Rock, which is our promise to agents on how we will support their business when they work with us. We provide interactive training, rewards for booking through our Loyalty Rocks Club and fam trips. We also pay great commissions, off er extensive gross and net rate pricing and have a very user-friendly booking portal.

Why should agents sell cruise rather than a land holiday?

Do both if needs be! Our cruises can easily be packaged with a land product. Focus on the incredible value, and the huge choice of activities onboard and ashore.

TOP THREE TIPS FOR AGENTS SELLING CRUISE

1 Let digital assist the sale: use video content to showcase life onboard and to give customers a taste of the destinations they’ll visit.

2 Don’t shy away from combining land with cruise: most cruise lines have varied durations that can be combined with a land product.

3 Talking up the onboard experience will help, but pairing this with an understanding of the excursions on land will really add value.

 

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