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Boosting river cruise business with one of TTG's Travel Heroes

TTG Travel Hero Jamie Loizou recently visited Key Holidays and Destina Travel to help them boost their river cruise business

Romiley, Greater Manchester

For Key Holidays director Jonathan Cunningham, there is one word that sums up his feelings for the year ahead with the support of the TTG Travel Heroes... excited.

“The impact of the TTG Travel Heroes is going to be fabulous,” he enthuses. “And with their support we’ve never been in a better place to drive sales.”

In January, Cunningham welcomed Jamie Loizou, TTG Travel Hero and AmaWaterways digital director, to Key Holidays’ shop in Romiley.

They were joined by Debbie Barraclough,
who oversees the agency’s sales, marketing and business development, and the trio discussed how AmaWaterways can help develop Key Holidays’ river cruise business.

The team has some experience in the market, as in 2019 river cruise bookings accounted for 5% of sales. One employee has been on a river cruise, and Barraclough spent two nights on an AmaWaterways ship at last year’s TTNG conference in Budapest.

In January, Key Holidays held its second river cruise evening, which was organised with another line. It attracted 85 guests and eight reservations have already been made.


“We’re looking to be able to call ourselves river cruise specialists,” Cunningham explains. “It would be fantastic to get ourselves up from not doing much with AmaWaterways to making 10 to 20 bookings by the end of the year.”

Product knowledge will be key, and an AmaWaterways training session is being arranged for Key Holidays’ four-strong team. Loizou has also offered a seven-night fam trip.

Cunningham has several audiences he hopes to target. He is keen to nurture a small but growing singles customer base, possibly by setting up an afternoon tea group. He also hopes to launch into the groups market with Loizou’s support, explaining: “There is a real opportunity for us with groups. It’s not something we’ve done before, but we sponsor a bowling group and a tee at the local golf club. AmaWaterways [is] willing to create flyers, pull-up displays and point-of-sale material, so with our existing local close contacts it could be really exciting.”


The active market will also be important, with Cunningham explaining: “Adventure is a buzzword at the moment, and things like the bikes and Wellness Hosts AmaWaterways offers will appeal to clients.”

Cunningham is keen for his team to learn about AmaWaterways’ ships’ USPs and to have confidence talking about the customer experience. He explains: “Until our meeting in January, I’d not thought about how a river cruise allows a customer to see five to seven fantastic destinations, but only unpack once. They can have a nice breakfast, a lovely guided walk, relax on the sundeck and then sail on to the next city or town. It really is living the dream, in luxury.”


Marketing support from Loizou will be invaluable. “To help introduce AmaWaterways to our clients, they’ll do an e-shot for us with an exclusive value- added deal, going out to our database of 1,200 clients.” Cunningham explains.


“We’re also hoping to send out an overbranded direct mail piece every three months to our main database of 3,000. As an independent agency, we don’t have anyone dedicated to our marketing. To have that unrivalled support from AmaWaterways will have such an impact; I can’t thank them enough.”

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