Leading cruise figures urged agents new to the sector to focus on attitude rather than age when trying to attract clients to sail.
Anthony Daniels, UK general manager of Hurtigruten, urged travel consultants to be “really careful” not to target particular age groups for expedition cruising based only on preconceptions.
“Yes, some of our clients are 60-70, but they have the get-up-and-go of a 20- or 30-year-old – it’s the attitude you look for, not the age.”
Daniels advised agents to consider the types of land-based holidays clients were already taking.
“Do they like trekking or kayaking? You might already have them. The beauty of expedition is that it appeals to people who wouldn’t necessarily think of ocean cruising,” he said. “We don’t consider ourselves a cruise line. We’re an expedition company that happens to use ships – they are base camps at sea.”
Similarly, Nick Wilkinson, vice-president and managing director UK and Ireland and EMEA at Norwegian Cruise Line, told delegates to “completely forget age” during the consultation process.
“Talk about experience with ocean, expedition, luxury and river,” he said. “Draw the customer in on what they can do onboard. Once you start putting barriers up based around who you think will like what, you’ve lost a sale,” he warned.
To help choose the right guest, Bernard Carter, senior vice-president and managing director EMEA, Oceania Cruises, told agents to develop closer ties with cruise lines to help identify the best-suited brands and to “become real experts” on different brands.
The trio were speaking during a panel moderated by TTG Media chief executive Daniel Pearce, during which the need to sell the benefits of inclusiveness offered by cruise holidays was also discussed.
Representing the river market, Viking Cruises’ UK key account manager, Jenny Wade, emphasised the value of the sector compared to a city break.
“When you initially pick up a river brochure, the price point may look slightly high, but add up what you’re getting: multiple destinations, accommodation, food, wine and city tours – this is very good value.”
Highlighting value in luxury, Carter added a recent Oceania study found the price per square foot of its most expensive suites was less than a tenth of the price of some of its smaller staterooms.