Jo Rzymowska, vice-president and managing director, UK, Ireland and Asia at Celebrity Cruises, on the travel industry’s changing market.
So far this year, I have been lucky enough to travel to Singapore, India, Taiwan, Miami, Barcelona, Rome and Majorca – a huge perk of working in one of the most dynamic and diverse industries in the world.
We are supremely lucky to be able to immerse ourselves in the world of travel and quite literally practise what we preach.
Travel has an enormous impact on the way we think and act, opening our minds to new experiences and widening our perspectives.
As we move closer towards a new decade, the progressive nature of travel is also having an effect on an ever-changing demographic.
According to Abta’s latest Holiday Habits Report, the number of young holidaymakers going on cruises is growing faster than any other age group.
Our industry continues to evolve at pace, with this group developing their love for travel from an early age and finding that cruise ships can increasingly meet the wide-ranging criteria they look for in a holiday.
It’s therefore not a surprise that we’re seeing an array of diverse needs and expectations from younger generations that vastly differ from our classic group of passengers. It’s vital the industry understands how to appeal to these new cruising converts.
The market has grown by 6% in the last year, with 28% of 18- to 34-year-olds stating in Abta’s report they have taken a cruise. Long gone are the days of simply picking the cheapest holiday available, as these younger travellers represent a more conscious buyer, coupled with
a heightened awareness for the ethics and ethos behind a brand.
A holiday is a significant purchase for any consumer, both in terms of the financial and experiential stakes involved.
This new market wants to ensure it makes the right choice by understanding a brand’s purpose and ethics – from sustainability practices to diversity and inclusion policies – and buy from companies mirroring their own personal attitudes and principles.
They are consumers who have passionate values and are in tune with ongoing action on LGBTQ+ rights, women’s issues and sustainability credentials.
In order to appeal to them as a brand, it makes perfect sense to make a conscious effort to champion these causes.
It’s something we at Celebrity have always prided ourselves on, but we cannot rest on our laurels when it comes to furthering these causes and embedding them into our brands.
I truly believe this new generation of mindful travellers will only grow, and is a group we should embrace with open arms. This is a huge opportunity for the cruising industry, with growing numbers of people considering alternative ways to travel the world.
Given the location of Abta’s Travel Convention this year, the Japanese concept of “kaizen” – or “forming the habit” – seems an apt way of describing what our approach should be.
It’s the belief that making small, but continuous changes will have major outcomes over time. Now is the time for us to be clear about who we are as an industry and as a business, and make sure we continue to advocate positive change.
It’s time to shout proudly about what we stand for.