The surging popularity of ocean cruising is no longer being viewed as a threat by Insight Vacations as it reported success for its efforts to re-establish the value of escorted touring.
Although once a concern, now the situation is “quite the opposite”, global chief executive John Boulding told Travel Today.
“We did feel the heat a couple of years back, but absolutely not anymore,” he said. “We’ve re-established the value of escorted touring with our trade partners and they realise that if they want to make money they’ve got to start selling escorted touring.”
In addition, the firm is attempting to capitalise on opportunities for additional sales by coexisting with cruise in a much more collaborative way. It has adapted many of its Mediterranean itineraries so that they operate in one direction, enabling travellers to pick up a cruise at either end. For example, an itinerary departing Rome will now finish in Venice rather than returning to its starting point.
Australians, in particular, have a tendency to combine several different forms of travel in one trip, Boulding revealed. He identified Insight’s range of tours, between four and 33 days in length, as the “perfect companion” to other products.
“Most people on a cruise will do a coach component at some stage and the up-sell is very lucrative for agents,” managing director Australia Joost Timmer added.
The value offered by Insights range of itineraries means the program is very much on agents’ radars, both men agreed.
“Agents understand us, they trust us, they know we’re the best product and that we have exceptional value for money,” Boulding said. “You could not do what we do yourself for anywhere near the price that we sell it at. You couldn’t possibly earn more money as an agent.”
High levels of satisfaction, averaging 99.3% worldwide, ensure a good volume of repeat business which also benefits agents. Currently, returning customers account for 40% of the firm’s worldwide business.