The river cruise line, which established its UK office in late 2016, will expand its on-the-road team from two business development managers to four.
Speaking to TTG in Porto at the naming ceremony of its latest vessel, AmaDouro, UK managing director Stuart Perl said the line wanted to “continue our existing agent relationships and create new ones”.
“Our current team [Jon Knight in the south and Joanne Smithies who covers the north and Scotland] have done such a fantastic job, but the areas they are covering can be challenging due to their size,” he explained.
Perl said recruitment for the roles would take place “as soon as possible”.
Jamie Loizou, sales, marketing and digital director, added: “We don’t just want to visit agents once and then never come back because we’re just too busy. It’s about maintaining those relationships and offering the right support.”
Meanwhile, the line is building a new e-learning platform for UK agents, AmaAcademy, aiming to launch the site in June.
The line is also planning to grow its fam trip programme, having hosted around 1,000 agents and suppliers onboard since it began operations in the UK.
AmaWaterways will run educationals later this year for members of the Advantage Travel Partnership – whose chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said is the godmother of AmaDouro – and The Travel Network Group, having hosted delegates onboard three vessels at the consortium’s Budapest conference last month.
AmaWaterways, which sells entirely through the trade, is targeting 30% UK sales growth from 2018-2019, following a similar percentage rise from 2017-18.
Perl and Loizou said they were optimistic of reaching the goal despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
“We can’t pretend this year has been brilliant, and the wave period was not as dynamic as we would have hoped,” Perl said.
“We’re trading virtually flat, but the October [Brexit] extension can really bring that confidence back to the market and help alleviate how people are feeling – I think we will see a spike in bookings for the summer.”
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