BY EDWINA COPPOCK
agency sales manager, Titan
Your customers’ choice of ocean and river cruise holidays has never been better, and it continues to grow year after year with the introduction of new ships and new destinations around the world. Becoming an expert – or staying an expert – seems ever more difficult.
Where do you start? I remember as a young trainee dreading the arrival of cruise customers, worried that I wouldn’t have the knowledge or experience to help them. These days though, there are so many opportunities to learn, and so much more conveniently.
Every cruise line is different, so training from the operators themselves is essential. Find out what they stand for, who their market is, what kind of destinations they feature and what the onboard experience is like. CLIA is brilliant too – look out for their roadshows and online training. In fact, the internet is perhaps the greatest information resource of all – visit the cruise lines’ websites, watch videos, read blogs and reviews, and so much more.
But when it comes down to it, there is no substitute for seeing and experiencing the product for yourself. Cruise lines and tour operators are really generous when it comes to fam trips and ship visits, and CLIA runs a superb annual river cruise convention, where attendees can inspect as many as six different vessels in a single visit. I’ve been fortunate to attend these and accompany several of Titan’s fam trips – and, though I wouldn’t say I’m quite an expert, I could certainly face those cruise customers without fear.
This year, Titan is hosting four special trips chartered specifically for agents, including a Douro cruise for 30 aboard Spirit of Chartwell, the ‘Royal Barge’ from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, and a mini-cruise around Croatia’s breathtaking Bay of Islands aboard the small ship MS Amalia. Such trips benefit frontline industry staff by building their knowledge, and they benefit us, as we know those staff go on to recommend the experience to their customers.
Titan also packages cruise itineraries with a land tour element, for the best of both worlds, a tour manager for your customers’ complete peace of mind – and, of course, our peerless home transfers. It gives you the best possible choice – book cruise-only with the operators themselves, or hassle-free packages from door-to-shore-to-door with Titan!
The cruise market in the UK looks set to continue growing for years to come and staying ahead of the learning curve is key to your success, our success and your customers’ holiday happiness!
Titan’s new Ocean & River Cruise Compendium brochure, featuring more than 80 ocean cruise itineraries and 40 river cruise itineraries, is out now. Of these itineraries, 28 are new for 2016, including ‘Grand Discoveries of the Orient’, and ‘The Wine Regions of France and Spain’. Amongst the new river cruises is ‘A Celebration of Lisbon and the Douro’, combining a two-night hotel stay in the Portuguese capital with a seven-night Douro cruise aboard the exclusively chartered Spirit of Chartwell.