John Fair is the UK sales director for CroisiEurope

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN YOUR CURRENT JOB AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ROLE?
I started on 1 March! I knew the CroisiEurope brand from a previous life and admired the company’s passion and drive, as well as the technological innovation it brings to the industry in terms of new ship builds, establishing programmes on new rivers such as The Loire and its brilliant on-board service.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE CRUISE INDUSTRY?
The industry is simply a pleasure to work in. The growth being seen in all sectors – but especially river cruise – shows how the products and brands out there for customers are meeting customer needs and providing such high levels of service and delivery. It is a truly exciting industry to be in at present.

HOW IS YOUR COMPANY DIFFERENT TO OTHER CRUISE LINES?
CroisiEurope is family-run and has been operating for over 40 years. It is Europe’s biggest river cruise operator with over 50 ships. The value CroisiEurope places on high levels of service on board, and its warm, friendly approach, mirror the family philosophy. This, combined with a unique product range, which includes traditional river ships, French canal barges and coastal cruises, puts us in a unique position in the marketplace.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?
Meeting as many travel agent partners as possible! Developing our trade presence is one of the main reasons I have been taken on in this role, and I believe this product will resonate with so many travel agents and their customers once they see the range of itineraries and the outstanding value the product represents.

IF AGENTS ONLY SELL ONE CROISIEUROPE ITINERARY THIS YEAR WHICH SHOULD IT BE?
It has to be the new MS African Dream, which sails on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe and into the Chobe National Park. This is combined with a stay at our very own safari lodge called Cascades. I’m a huge fan of Southern Africa so can’t speak highly enough of this stunning cruise.

CAN YOU GIVE US A DESCRIPTION OF A TYPICAL CROISIEUROPE CUSTOMER?
Our UK clients are discerning and like to combine comfort, value for money and exquisite food and wine with a deep dive into local history and culture.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK THAT AGENTS MIGHT NOT KNOW.
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with the family, writing travel articles, cycling, cooking and the odd glass of decent red wine. I’m also a season ticket holder at Brighton and Hove Albion.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING CRUISE SALES?
Lack of general knowledge for both agents and customers on what river cruising offers for a holiday – and also the impression that it’s for ‘old’ people. Nothing could be further from the truth, with most lines now offering activity-based cruises and active excursion programmes. In my experience, older people want to be active and some younger people want to simply relax, so why categorise a river cruise by age?

HOW DOES CROISIEUROPE WORK WITH THE TRADE
To date, much of our trade business in the UK has been via group charters. However, our FIT business is now growing steadily and myself and the team will be aiming to foster partnerships with all agents who would wish to sell us. We offer a UK call centre, a 24/7 booking portal, fam trips and training programmes for any agent who would like them.

 

TOP THREE TIPS FOR AGENTS SELLING CRUISE…

1 Target both ocean cruisers and high-end hotel customers on your database and in your local area, as for many, river cruising is the next logical step.

2 Make sure you take as many online training programmes as possible and, if offered go on fam trips. There is no substitute for sampling a product before you sell it.

3 Match your client to the correct cruise line – each offers something unique. Understand what motivates them and what the cruise lines can do to meet those expectations.