Blog take-over from John C Spark…
Recently I went to the Cruiseco National Conference, for those who are not aware of it, Travel With Purpose became members last year.
Cruiseco are one of the largest cruise buying consortiums in Australia!
They are the premium cruise suppliers in Australia and only a small number of travel agencies have access to them because you have to first be invited and have a high level of cruise expertise to qualify. Once you are a member you get exclusive deals, for example over the past 12months there was over 85M worth of exclusive cruises available to Cruiseco agencies in Australia.
What I thought I would do is share some of the points from my time with them to show you what is going on with the cruise market. I’ve done 20 plus cruises around the world and thought I was a fairly knowledgeable until I walked away from the conference and realized we’ve got a lot of work to do in this area.
Listen to my full audio recording of my insights below… or read the full article.
In all honesty I’ve done plenty cruises around the world, river cruises and ocean cruises, and thought I was fairly knowledgeable on it, but I walked away from this cruise conference realising that in fact we have a lot more work to do to really get in touch with what’s going on. Probably the best way to demonstrate is that imagine ten years ago what a phone was like, or a first mobile phone. They were promising all kinds of wonderful things and threatening to change the world. No one really understood the size and complexity and diversity of that market. And what’s happening now in the cruise industry is exactly the same. We used to have the old mobile phone, now we’ve got the modern iPhones and the various other types of phones that are out there, and some of the things that they can do are utterly phenomenal. In fact, you may not realise this, but I’m actually recording what is written here on a phone before it’s written, so I’ll actually hand this to Kalia to type out. So again there’s an example of who would have thought we’d use a phone to do that ten years ago.
The same thing’s happening with the cruise market, it’s changing incredibly and for instance, last year 1,058,781 Australians cruised. Out of a percentage of the population of 26 million that represents about 2.6 million or just under 2.6 million people. Put another way it means that 97 people who travel out of 100 don’t cruise, and when you look at all the cruise deals and specials around that’s phenomenal. About what’s possible and when this market really goes, the cruise companies have recognised this and are pouring billions of dollars into new ships to create experiences for people, and just some notes that are referring back to my notes now. We need to understand that there’s a huge variety of ships, something like 448 cruise ships around the world now. There’s also just under 300 river cruise ships, so it gives you an idea of the massive size of this market, and it’s very important that as a person interested in a cruise that you learn to understand the huge varieties of ship, and frankly you need to get it right, otherwise your cruise experience will under-perform for you and that’s not a nice thing in my opinion.
Now let me just highlight some bullet points here of what cruise companies are looking to achieve from the cruise. One of the notes I’ve made here is immersion. They want to bring the destination on board. Guests want more than a cruise, they want exclusivity, customization, they want options. They’re looking at combining the whole holiday with the cruise, and from what cruise companies are telling us you’re willing to spend to create the memories of a lifetime. It’s important you understand what luxury really is, multi-generational travel is incredibly important. Another big message is that people want cheap experiences, they want life-changing memories. Does that sound familiar to you?
Let me go 8, 5, 7, 2, 2. Other things that people are looking for and companies are targeting specifically are destination immersion. This is critical on some cruises they want authentic experience, they want comradery from the people that they’re sharing an experience with. They’re looking for the really seen and not usually accessible experience. Every age on cruises now is getting down under 60 on most cruises, and what this means is that there’s a lot more active people on there, and that’s important. They are often still working.
Okay let’s look now at some of the destinations that are hot according to the cruise companies. Number one Alaska, and we can tell you that we’ve booked a lot of it. Cuba is opening up, a lot of ships are going there, it’s really important to understand that Cuba has very, very poor infrastructure, so you need to be aware of it. If you’re on a cruise ship for 3000 people turning into Cuba it’s not going to be the easiest experience to experience. For instance one of the biggest issues is there’re not enough buses in these ports to transport people around, so be very aware of the type of cruise ship that you’re on when you’re thinking about a Cuban cruise experience.
Japan’s very hot at the moment, Hawaii’s hot and it’s always been hot. And the other themed cruises, like the music cruises are incredibly hot. If you’re into music in any way or form you really need to look at these music cruises, they are proving massively popular. And luxury is hot, real luxury, and ultra luxury. Around Australia cruises are proving incredible because of the itineraries now. I know one cruise, for instance the guy spent six months going around the country to find all the unique different things that he could include in that cruise for the extras.
The other thing is the polar exploration and adventure cruises, not only the polar, they have proven massively popular. Things like each year you can get 2% closer to the poles and the antarctic and now because of the ice melting. This is phenomenal, it means that earlier season. The other thing that’s very important people are looking at the pre and post cruises now, and that’s why more than 70% of people are coming back to travel agencies to help plan the all-inclusive complete trip. I’ve got a bunch of tips and hints here, but you know what this is enough for now. I just wanted to finish off by saying we are specialising our business now focusing a lot more on cruises. It’s already 30% of our business but over the next couple of years we see it growing significantly as we become masters of understanding how to provide for you the right cruise in the right time in the right way,