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Hays Travel’s Catriona Parsons: Capturing the growing cruise market

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Hays Travel head of cruise Catriona Parsons discusses the brand’s recent expansion and how it intends to capture the growing cruise market.

What an incredible time it is to be in the travel business. I joined Hays Travel only seven weeks ago [at the time of writing], just before the company announced its major expansion. The landscape of travel is changing and evolving and it’s those who adapt who end up being the strongest.

Evolving is what Hays Travel is known for. With the company acquiring the entire retail portfolio of the former Thomas Cook estate it has been a busy time for us all, but it wouldn’t have been possible or been such a success without the great teams that are helping the change to happen.

In just five weeks we have recruited approximately 2,500 former Thomas Cook employees and now we have created another 1,500 jobs, including apprenticeships across the UK. This means our branches will have the highest level of customer service with specialists in cruise and foreign exchange in each branch.

Hays Travel, cruise, Catriona Parsons, travel
Hays Travel is expanding its cruise portfolio

Future growth

There is a massive boost in cruise travel at the moment, with the UK two million cruise passenger mark achieved for the first time at the end of 2018. What’s more, more than 100 ships are on order worldwide, to be ready by 2027; 20 will be launched in 2020 alone.

As the UK’s largest independent travel agent Hays Travel is ideally placed to capture this growing market. Therefore, it’s vital that we equip our people with the information they need to learn and hone their knowledge to ensure that we sell the right cruise to the right customer.

There is the Hays Travel Academy, which provides comprehensive training. In addition, our cruise experts hone their knowledge and skills through trade workshops, visits and seminars and bring these back to branch, ensuring everyone benefits.

We are really passionate about cruise and excited about the future. There’s never been a better time to cruise, as there really is something for everyone.

The internet has created revolutionary changes in tourism with customers using it as a research tool. However, more people are wanting advice, recommendations and opinions on where to go and what to do while away, whether that be in the UK or abroad.

This is the role of a travel agent today, to enhance the experience that we give to our potential and existing customers so that we excite and delight them, ensuring that customers will come into our Hays Travel branches time and time again to book their luxury, family or cruise holiday.

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