An impending national lockdown in England and rules against international leisure travel will not damage future consumer confidence, according to P&O Cruises’ sales chief.
Alex Delamere-White said he saw the tightened coronavirus restrictions, due to come into force on Thursday, as a “much unneeded distraction to agents who are doing a remarkable job under almost impossible circumstances”.
Asked how he believed the restrictions around travelling – much derided by industry leaders – could affect demand in the coming months, Delamere-White said interest for summer 2021 onwards was “strong”.
“We know through previous recessions, holiday spending remains incredibly resilient – it’s one of the last purchases that consumers forgo. I don’t think [the lockdown news] changes the long-term outlook and confidence in holidaying and cruising.”
Delamere-White said P&O would become “more overt” with its marketing messages around health and safety and guests travelling with confidence moving into the turn-of-year wave booking period.
Discussing the new-to-cruise market, Delamere-White said P&O had seen fewer newcomers booking since its pause in operations earlier this year.
“We know that with cruise word of mouth from friends and family is an enormous driver," he said. "We’re not cruising right now, so that word of mouth isn’t there to generate interest, so we’d expect that to be down and we, and many other brands, have been less active with marketing - that will naturally mean we’re talking to less newcomers,” he said.
However Delamere-White insisted he did not believe the trend was "a sign of any lack of appetite or confidence" by newcomers to try cruise.
“I think it’s just about timing,” he added. “As we move into wave we’ll be looking to generate demand through past guests and newcomers too. I don’t believe it’s a long-term issue.”