That was the message of Lynne Woodward, co-founder of Coddiwomple Travel, to delegates at the inaugural TTG New to Cruise Festival.
The event, held at Manchester airport’s Concorde Conference Centre, was created to enable travel agents, who had sold no or a limited number of cruises within the last 12 months due to a lack of knowledge about the industry, to grow their confidence and cruise bookings.
“Cruise can be complex, but try putting together something simple at first and you’ll soon get your confidence up,” she said. “There are so many experts in the industry to help you too, Clia can provide training and the cruise lines have some brilliant programmes.”
Woodward, who launched Coddiwomple 18 months ago with business partner Ann Roberts, said that cruise now accounted for around half of the agency’s business.
The pair secured a 157-passenger booking within just a year of launching their agency, which they set up after being made redundant from their previous jobs at a college, after inspiring their choir to cruise when a land-based holiday to France faced logistical difficulties.
Woodward also stressed agents to push the comparative value offered from a cruise with the equivalent of a European land-based holiday.
“We do a lot of comparisons and once they see the value for money you get from accommodation, entertainment, kids clubs, they’ll be hooked,” she said.
Woodward advised agents to also approach cruise lines to take part in ship visits and share their time onboard with clients via social media and create engagement using Facebook Live.
It was her own passion for cruising and status as a “self-confessed cruise anorak”, having sailed almost 80 times, Woodward said, that helped convert sceptical customers to the thought of cruising.
“People do come to us saying that ‘cruising’s not for me’ but once the passion [I have] spills over and they feel it too they become as enthusiastic about it as I am,” Woodward said.