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Ponders Travel MD Clare Dudley: ‘Time to be brave and start promoting cruise’

Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley explains why it’s crucial to promote cruise holidays

Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley explains why it’s crucial to promote cruise holidays and tempt holidaymakers, even if bookings are slow.

One of the things I have total respect for – and more so since March 2020 – is that each and every agency business is different.

Understanding this continues to help me not read too much into anything I read that discusses trends or how things are going for any particular business. We know we are not alone in what we are going through.

I am determined not to lose sight of attitude and belief. I can guarantee that all my friends in travel have suffered in the last 18 months, but we are all hopeful of better times to come.

Travel is very high on clients’ minds. What we have to work out is when they will feel safe not only to travel, but to book again. This is the part I find interesting and where I think some will fare better than others.

I have personally travelled to a number of cities and towns in the UK only to see the travel agents in those towns with closed doors, no offers in the windows and just a note to say that they are only open during certain hours a day – the shops look sad.

We need to remember that travel is about inspiring people to travel and making them dream – we have to earn their trust.

Be there and be ready for cruise bookings

No doubt some of you want to hit me now, as you will say in response to my comments (and someone actually did say this to me the other day), ‘but no one wants to book right now so what’s the point of promoting anything?’. I say, the point is we have to be there for when they are ready; we have to show them they can trust us and we must tempt them.

Clients are booking, with many opting for higher value cruise holidays and special trips – they feel they deserve it. They also haven’t spent money on a cruise for the last two years, so many can afford to spend a little more.

I encourage you all to be brave, to start promoting, start selling again. The luxury cruise lines are a wonderful example to us, with world cruises selling out and long waiting lists.

Clients are eager to see itineraries for 2024 and due to high demand in 2022 and 2023, many cruises are already full.

So, let’s make our windows bright again, encourage customers to think of far-flung destinations and get them booking.

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