AmaWaterways UK managing director Jamie Loizou explains why travel agents should shout about their expertise, as the “future is bright for selling on service, not on price”.
I think it’s safe to say that 2020 was not the year we anticipated.
As a business we are 100 per cent dedicated to the trade and working with our travel agent partners is part of our DNA. It’s been an incredibly challenging time to be a travel agent, but I firmly believe that now more than ever a good travel agent is worth their weight in gold.
With travel advice changing and agents dealing with multiple partners with varying polices, agents should not be afraid to underline their value. I think the future is bright for selling on service, not on price.
Support for travel agents
To support our agents we have changed our business. As in-person meetings and events were not feasible, we went digital.
At the last count, since March 2020 we have conducted in excess of 2,500 virtual cruise events and it has been a vital part of how we have supported our travel partners, educated their guests and introduced river cruising to thousands of new people.
We recently launched the latest module of our AmaAcademy online training platform, which focuses on one of our key rivers, the Danube.
We are seeing a lot of new enquiries as agents look to diversify their product offering. People are attracted to river cruising due to the smaller numbers on board, the ability to explore destinations independently and benefit from excellent commission. This is a key driver behind us adding the Danube as this is a real new-to-cruise river.
Focusing on innovation
We have always innovated as a business, from introducing bicycles and wellness hosts to building the double-width AmaMagna, which offers a choice of four restaurants and the largest suites on the rivers. This year has been no different.
We were the only luxury river cruise line to cruise this season, sailing for four months from July to November on the Rhine. This valuable time allowed us to perfect our health and safety protocols, and we received excellent guest feedback.
Wearing masks while moving around inside the ship did not diminish the guest experience, with 97 per cent saying they would recommend AmaWaterways to a friend.
We also went on sale with our new Egypt programme and are looking forward as 2021 sees the launch of the AmaDahlia on the Nile and AmaLucia and AmaSiena on the Rhine.
Flexibility is key
We know that people are prioritising safety and flexibility when planning their future holidays and are also looking to spend more time travelling.
AmaWaterways’ new programmes include 10 per cent savings on back-to-back cruises and our complimentary Ultimate Cruise Flexibility concept, which enables guests to move their cruise booking up to 48 hours before departure.
We are very confident that river cruising will be one of the earliest travel segments to recover and benefit from the pent-up demand.