Panache Cruises founder and chief executive James Cole has warned the cruise sector will continue to face challenges in 2024.
“It is going to be another tough year,” Cole said. “There is still a lot going on globally; we have got wars breaking out in different parts of the world, we still have the cost of living crisis, we have inflation remaining ridiculously high; all these things will have an impact.”
Despite his concerns, Cole said he remains “cautiously optimistic” for the future, with lines unveiling fresh itineraries and a raft of new luxury and ultra-luxury vessels set to come online, including Explorer Journeys’ Explora I.
“It is still going to be difficult for the UK consumer next year, but we are cautiously optimistic, ” he added. “Our customers are fortunate enough to be in a strong financial position, and they still want to catch up on missed time during the pandemic.”
His warning came following the opening of the luxury cruise agency’s new global head office in Chorley, which, according to Cole, has already encouraged more colleagues to come into the office.
The new office, based at Strawberry Fields Digital Hub, has seen three separate offices converted into one space and was designed by Bolton-based architectural services firm Elizabeth George.
The new building will accommodate the company’s rapidly growing team, which has increased over the past 12 months and now stands at 52.
‘Our people drive our success’, says Panache Cruises boss Cole
“Our people are our most important asset and what drives our success,” Cole continued. “We operate a highly sophisticated digital marketing strategy coupled with good old fashioned offline, personalised customer service – so the way our team manages their relationships with customers is pivotal to our future success.”
This month Panache has also achieved its initial objective of having at least 10 apprentices in the business by the end of 2023, with plans to introduce up to 100 by 2023.
“Since establishing Panache Cruises, it’s always been a personal passion of mine to invest in and develop young talent,” Cole explained. “We have seen enormous benefits from introducing this programme.
“Being able to take on young, colleagues who have the aptitude to not only do a great job but also want to learn too, is a win win for all.”