The luxury of small ship sailing

Saga's Spirit of Discovery

lain Powell, head of trade sales for Saga Cruises, updates us on Spirit of Discovery and discusses the advantages of strong agent partnerships

Iain Powell Saga

We are very fortunate to have customers, both new and existing, who book their cruise with us well in advance. This has put us in a strong position heading into 2018 and I am very positive about the year ahead. Our agent partners are a key part of our strong performance and we are extremely grateful for this. We do still have availability remaining and I would urge customers to book now to avoid disappointment.

Spirit of Discovery is progressing very well indeed. We are all extremely excited to welcome her into the fleet in summer 2019. Saga Cruises is, I feel, entering a new era with Spirit of Discovery, and then Spirit of Adventure, which follows in 2020. Spirit of Discovery will be the definition of luxury
small ship cruising, with the styling of a luxury boutique hotel. Every cabin will benefit from a private balcony and an abundance of space. Customers will have an array of restaurants and bars to choose from, while enjoying the comfort of Saga’s outstanding service levels.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the positivity towards our brands from the trade and I hope we can continue to build on this. Agent partnerships are incredibly important to us – travel agents are such an integral part of the customer’s journey. We rely on them to showcase the Saga product. whether it be a cruise or land­ based holiday. I was recently brought into Saga to further develop our trade relationships, which is testament to the
businesses’ commitment to growing this channel.

We are always looking for new ways to reward agents for booking a Saga product and offer a wide range of agent training and incentive opportunities. For example, we are giving £100 vouchers on every ocean cruise booking made by the end of February 2018. You are also entered into a draw for Ed Sheeran tickets. We also have an amazing regional team who can support with training and events; if we can be of any help, just let us know.

Cruise continues to grow and is becoming a key part of the travel industry, but we still have a long way to go. I think customers are becoming more adventurous in their travel – particularly in the over-50s market. Because of this, they want new and exciting destinations to explore, which are often only accessible on smaller ships. Saga continues to operate and build smaller luxury ships, exploring varied and diverse ports of call.

Service is at the heart of everything we do and I feel our level of inclusions is industry-leading. I would like to see our agent partners articulate the incredible value for money Saga offers. Whether it is our full-board basis, drinks with lunch and dinner, chauffeur service door-to-door from up to 250 miles or inclusive gratuities, we offer real value. Also, for 2018 sailings we have made Saga Sapphire All Inclusive; we’ve got everything covered.

I am at present primarily focusing on continuing our strong start to Wave/ Peak. As I only recently joined Saga, this is also a period of reflection for me – a time when I can assess the various ways in which we can further support our agent partners. In the coming weeks and months, therefore, we will be cementing existing relationships with our partners while also seeking new ones. My team of both office and field sales people will be there to help in any way we can, garnering the incredible trade support for the brands, which is clear to see. Both Saga Holidays and Cruise have an amazing product offering of diverse and varied experiences; I will look to the trade to support us in showcasing this to customers.

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