Agents who invite their clients along to events stand a much higher chance of converting them to an expedition cruise, the UK boss of Silversea Cruises has claimed.
“Once clients discover more about expedition cruising at events, we tend to see much higher conversions coming through agents,” says Peter Shanks, UK managing director for the line. “It’s a case of talking about the places people will see.”
Shanks was speaking to TTG in advance of the 16 July on-sale date for Silver Origin, the line’s first-ever ship to be custom-built for expedition and destination-specific, departing for its first revenue sailing in the Galapagos in July 2020.
Among the highlights of the 100-passenger, all-suite ship is Basecamp – located next to the Zodiac embarkation area – which will act as a social lounge and hub for lectures, with a large interactive digital wall where passengers can view videos and shore excursion previews.
Shanks – who also heads up Clia’s expedition working group – believes there is huge potential for agents who get involved with this growing niche, adding that Akvile Marozaite, the line’s sales manager expedition for UK & Ireland, is available for on-site training for agents.
“We’re on a mission to take leadership in the expedition space,” Shanks says. “When agents ask us how they can find these kinds of customer, I say ‘you already have them’, as they’re baby boomers, luxury touring customers, anyone looking for something different and existing cruise clients who want to take a step up.”
The expedition sector is predicted to grow by 30% over the next four years, and Silversea sees itself as spearheading developments with its 167-day World Expedition Cruise (30 January to 16 July 2021) on Silver Cloud, where prices start from £104,000pp.
“The World Expedition Cruise is a ‘bucket list’ thing for many clients, and we’ve had a lot of excitement from the trade too,” Shanks says.
The planning for all Silversea’s expeditions comes under Conrad Combrink, senior vice-president for expeditions and destination experiences.
“Classically, expedition cruises would have been about the Arctic and Antarctic, but we decided to see how you could connect more places with an expedition focus,” he says.
Leaving for Antarctica from Ushuaia in Argentina, Silver Cloud will then head westwards, moving through the South Pacific and Australia, then through the Middle East arriving in the Mediterranean in May and finally sailing around the British Isles and up to Tromso and the Arctic.
“We will make sure we are in all the right places at the best time of year too,” Combrink says, adding that onboard speakers will include explorers Tim Severin and Felicity Aston, the first person to cross Antarctica solo on skis.
Silversea has also appointed Bill Davis as vice-president of expedition operations and development, assisting with creating new programmes, managing expedition field staff and overseeing the Silversea Expedition Academy, which recruits and trains talent.
“Few companies are investing as much as we are into expedition generally,” Combrink says. “In our eyes, it’s not about whether you have submarines or helicopters on the ship – our people are a key point of difference for us.”
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