We all know the value of booking with a travel agent, especially given the things they know that ordinary travellers just don’t.
But it always helps to have a little bit of insight into how certain industries – in this case, the cruise industry – focus on travel agents to help grow their business.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Executive Vice President of International Business Development, Harry Sommer, said the facts show clearly where agents stand in the business of cruising.
“With all the talk of online platforms, it’s easy to forget the key role travel agents play in connecting cruise liners with a constant stream of passengers,” he told TW.
“With such a wide array of options available, choosing a cruise product, or package, can be extremely complex, and travel agents provide an exceptional service matching clients with their ideal cruise and taking care of essential details including flights, pre and post-cruise accommodation, transfers, sightseeing tours and more.
“Research indicates cruise passengers continue to use travel agents to book their voyages, with Regent Seven Seas Cruises noting 89 per cent of their guests book via a travel agent,” Sommer added.
“The rapid, and exponential, growth in cruising in Australia over a relatively short period of time is testament to the invaluable support provided by cruise lines’ travel partners.”
“It’s one thing to invite the world’s biggest cruise brands and luxury liners to homeport in, or visit, cities such as Sydney, but without the infrastructure to support Australian cruising’s current momentum, the local market will stagnate – and Australian travellers will be the ones to miss out,” he said.
So how can we learn from the world’s best?
“Certainly the importance of adopting a long-term view of growing the cruise industry by committing to major investment in infrastructure to accommodate future expansion,” Sommer told TW.
“We’ve seen this action taken by our neighbours in Asia, with Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and especially China seriously upgrading infrastructure to attract major players in the burgeoning cruise industry.
“We are hoping Australia will also take this view once it considers the over-arching economic impact of failing to provide necessary infrastructure to accommodate the growing popularity of the cruise sector, with the fortunes of thousands of travel agents, hotels, restaurants, transport companies and large and small food, beverage and other suppliers vulnerable if positive change does not occur.”