We’re only two months into 2018, and already it’s been a big year for cruising.
From new ship debuts to changing homeports in Australia, Travel Weekly definitely has its eye firmly on the industry.
The latest news comes from Cunard, as the company announced it would choose Melbourne as its homeport for Queen Elizabeth’s 101-day jaunt in Australia.
Speaking on the decision, Cunard Senior Vice President Simon Palethorpe said Queen Elizabeth’s two-month 2020 season signified the importance of Australian cruisers to the company.
“Over the past few years we’ve seen unprecedented growth in demand for the Cunard experience in Australia so it made sense for us to invest further in the market and extend the sailing season of Queen Elizabeth even more in 2020,” Palethorpe said.
“Our new 2019-20 summer season will not only feature more cruises, it will also offer some exciting new itinerary options which we hope will entice even more Australians to experience Cunard’s legendary service and style.”
Following on from this, Travel Weekly sat down with Cunard Vice President in the UK and International Development David Rousham to find out how the company is changing its relationship with the trade.
First and foremost, Rousham said the company was incredibly impressed with Australian trade’s ability to sell.
In particular, the grouping of cruises in packages.
“We have been astonished with – in fact it’s been a unique amount in all the areas of the world – the packaging programs by the trade, particularly the combination cruises on two to three of the Queens.”
Australian cruises have grown significantly in the last 12 months, with Rousham stating the growth has thrilled the company.
“In 2018, there has been a 40 per cent growth on 2017 in terms of overall business.
“This has not grown by homeporting, what we are seeing is lots of Aussies going on long cruises and combinations of cruises.”
“We’ve also had a three-fold increase in Trans-Atlantic guests and a Seven-fold increase in Aussies flying to join Trans-Atlantic or Baltic cruises” Rousham added.
Rousham also said that agents have noticed consumer habits and begun tailoring cruise holidays accordingly.
“Northern cruises and going on long cruises and agents have picked up on this.”
When asked what Cunard can do for agents and vice-versa, Rousham said it was all about offering more insights.
“I think it became very clear that guest differentiation is something they would like, more insights.
“We have committed to providing more insights on the type of guest who is right for Cunard and the type of guest they can sell to who will come back time and time again,” he said.
The research he is speaking of is the ‘Blue Riband’ project, named after the cruising accolade, which looked at US, UK, Australian and German cruising markets.
“We had a lot of research which gave us confidence in trying to push onwards with Australia.
“We conducted a lot of research under a project named Blue Riband in the US, UK, Germany, and Australia, and in all those markets we saw a strong appeal from ‘Cunarders’, those who had already travelled.”
“In Australia, there was this untapped potential of people who matched that group but weren’t cruising at that moment,” Rousham said.
“That excited the trade and the trade wanted to know more about who those people were and how they can get to them.”
Rousham added it was on Cunard to supply these insights.
“For us, it’s about providing a little more insight into the trade.”
“We’re working together on how we can pull those analytics and provide information to agents and trade,” Rousham added.