A rise in travellers who are “very much spending the kids’ inheritance” is helping to create a “perfect storm” for UK agents to sell Asia river cruises.
That was the message from Clia deputy chair Giles Hawke, who urged delegates at Clia’s Asia River Cruise & Destination Forum in Vietnam today (April 11) to push the “incredibly lucrative market” to customers.
Hawke, chief executive of Cosmos and Avalon Waterways, said he believed agents should fine the product “an easy sell” due to the cultural experiences in destinations across the region.
He also emphasised the “minimal difference” in average lead-in cost for a 15-day river cruise in Asia, around £4,000pp, and its European equivalent – roughly priced at £3,000pp, highlighting the “great value” of Asia.
“The type of people we are selling Asian river cruise to don’t need more things – what our target market are really looking for is connections, depth of experience, real interaction,” he told delegates in Ho Chi Minh City.
“Those people are skiers – they are intent on making the most in life and they want to maximise the time they have and are very much spending the kid’s inheritance.
“They want authenticity, great food, like-minded travelling companions and want to enjoy life so these two cultural phenomena of wanting experiences over possessions and to get out there and live without worrying about leaving money behind is the perfect storm for us selling river cruises in Asia.”
Charting the rise in popularity for Asian river cruising, Hawke described how 12% of UK river passengers had undertaken a sailing in the region during 2016 – with the destination growing its number of UK passengers by 20% between 2015 to 2016.
“It is a fairly significant rise coming from a small base,” he said , adding that in 2016 1,800 travellers took a river cruise in China, 1,000 in India, 4,100 opting for sailings in Vietnam and Cambodia and 2,000 cruised in Myanmar.
“There’s massive opportunity,” he continued.
Although Hawke did acknowledge that the increased cost of travelling to Asia compared to Europe meant agents needed to research the product thoroughly if they were to provide the right service for clients.
“By being [at the conference] you will be greater experts for selling river cruise in Asia which gives us a real advantage and edge over those that aren’t,” he said.