A-Rosa UK & Ireland MD Lucia Rowe

A-Rosa UK MD Lucia Rowe: ‘Opportunity and hope for travel agents’

A-Rosa River Cruises UK & Ireland managing director Lucia Rowe outlines why she believes travel agents can look to the future with hope and confidence.

It’s fair to say that 2021 didn’t quite start the way we had all hoped. While everyone in the travel industry continues to face challenges on a daily basis, there is now a real reason for optimism as we look to the future.

The recent roadmap announcement – not to mention the success of the vaccination programme – brings new hope, new dreams of travelling again and a confidence in customers that they can start thinking and even planning their next holiday. Yes, nothing is yet set in stone, but the announcement means customers can start to see a timeframe of when they will be fully vaccinated and able to travel, if restrictions allow.

Everyone is talking about demand and we know that people are keen to travel just as soon as they can. As I heard someone say recently, their suitcase is down from the loft – it’s not packed yet, but it’s ready and waiting.

There is such an opportunity for the retail trade ahead, as customers look to book with agents who can offer expertise and knowledgeable advice, and also provide reassurance if things do need to change. Plus, the message to book with a supplier that offers flexible terms has never been more important.

European river cruises in demand

European river cruises tick so many of the boxes when it comes to what people want from their next holiday. It is predicted that Europe will be where much of the demand is seen in 2021 and into 2022, as customers choose to travel to countries just two or three hours away. Key factors in the choice of destination will be low Covid ratings, good health systems and those that coped well last year when the pandemic took hold.

River cruises offer a small-ship experience away from international waters, they can be reached by a variety of transport method such air, rail or self-drive, and the health and safety protocols that were introduced last year by lines such as ourselves have proved that it can be done safely.

For many customers, being able to holiday again will give them the much-needed freedom following the endless lockdowns and restrictions.

So many people are yearning to make new memories with their loved ones by doing something different and experiencing new places. River cruising is just perfect for this and with A-Rosa, our multi-generational focus offers a real opportunity to get away with the whole family and reconnect.

We also know that many ocean cruise customers are now turning to the rivers as a way to get back on the water, so it is so important for agents to ensure they are targeting these customers.

A-Rosa is so proud to have sailed successfully for five months in 2020, proving to everyone in the industry that it can be done and that river cruising will remain as wonderful as ever.

There may be many obstacles still to overcome over the next few months, but let’s look to the future, focus on how far we have come and all that we have to look forward to.

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