By Bernard Carter, managing director, EMEA, Oceania Cruises
So, once again we find ourselves behind to the Germans… extra time, penalties…?
Do not fear, by this time next year we should be back on top!
The continued rise of the German cruise market – and the reduction in tonnage for the UK market meant that for the first time, in 2014 more Germans cruised than Brits.
This will be reversed in 2015 as we see an increase once again in tonnage for the UK market – but what should excite us more is that the European cruise industry in general is getting stronger by the year and represents key growth opportunities for all cruise lines.
Yes, we are still seeing special promotions but today’s offers are so much more imaginative, with additional onboard amenities – in short, if cruising historically offered good value it should now be a no-brainer.
There is now a ship and product for everyone and numbers can only go in one direction as more people realise this. The cruise industry has come so far in the last 10 years, with market-leading brands introducing ever more extravagant innovations – what we have today is a professional industry led by visionaries.
The ability to move from concept to reality has been nothing short of stunning – after all, who would have thought we would ever be able to go ten-pin bowling, ice-skating or ‘skydive’ on board a ship?
As long as we, the professionals are careful to place clients on the right product the vast majority will become converts, extolling the virtues of cruising to friends, family – even total strangers via global internet review sites.
Independent recommendation is amazingly powerful and with the rise in social media and consumer forums over recent years it is clear that engagement with our customers is a necessity. People who book cruises like the idea of community.
Travel agents too are entering the world of social media at an increasing pace – interacting and engaging their followers on anything from new promotions to special ‘behind the scenes’ reports and sought after ‘exclusive’ recipes.
We are at a very exciting time when the pace of change will only increase – with technology at the forefront. Not as some would say, a force against human contact but as a powerful tool to increase the breadth and depth of the travel agent/consumer relationship. As our German cousins say … “Vorsprung durch Technik” … “Progress through Technology”