Nearly 90% of Saga cruise customers have opted to re-book rather than take a refund, confirming “pent-up demand”, the operator has said.
In a trading statement, the brand said customer retention in its cruise division had risen from 69% to 86%, proving the market’s underlying demand from guests “who will benefit from the first round of the vaccine roll-out”.
“Customer demand has also been very resilient, with £140 million of total cruise bookings as at 23 January, representing 68% and 28% of the latest revenue targets for 2021/22 and 2022/23 respectively,” Saga said.
These figures exclude £8 million in cancelled bookings where customers have chosen to receive a voucher rather than re-book a specific cruise.
“As at 31 January 2020, total bookings were £127 million, representing 78% and 6% of the revenue targets at that date for 2020/21 and 2021/22.”
In tour operating, Saga said its customer retention rate was now 41%, with plans to resume tours and cruises from May. Spend on marketing and administration has been cut by £6-8 million a month.
Saga Tours held £25 million in cash at 31 December 2020, including £22 million in advance customer receipts.
Saga said it had “significant liquidity and headroom” but was “taking actions to further enhance financial flexibility” given the disruption to its travel business.
This includes seeking to defer payments for its two cruise ships “of up to £45 million” from April this year until March 2022. This is in addition to £32 million already deferred from April 2020 until March 2021.
“We have commenced constructive discussions with lenders, who remain supportive,” Saga said, adding it would provide an update with full-year results.