Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released its fourth Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report of 2016, the fourth installment in an ongoing quarterly research study from CLIA designed to forecast trends in the cruise industry among the travel agent community. This installment of the report found that travel agent sales remain strong, overall cruise spending is growing, and travel agents are influencing advance cruise bookings, CLIA said.
Key findings include:
According to the report, cruise travel's popularity continues to rise across all four major cruise segments. Travel agents reported a higher cruise sales volume over last year with over three-quarters projecting a continued increase. River cruise popularity continues and six out of ten (67 percent) of travel agents are seeing a growth in river cruise popularity. Larger ships are seeing a spike in interest as well as 62 percent of agents is reporting growth in the sector.
The report found that travel agents are continuing to see strong sales due to cruise travel's ever-growing popularity and sales are projected to be the strongest this winter when compared to earlier in 2016. Over 80 percent of travel agencies polled believe that cruise sales volume will be strongest this winter compared to sales this time last year, due in part to economic stability. Overall cruise spending is also reported to be on the rise, as nearly three-quarters of all travel agents report an increase in consumer spending with 22 percent expecting growth of ten percent or more, another 22 percent expect sales to grow six to ten percent, and 30 percent expecting a five percent growth.
Travel agents taking part in the report stated clients are increasingly booking cruises further in advance, shining a light on how knowledgeable agents can guide clients toward a best vacation with the best deal before ships reach sailing capacity contrary to the "last minute deal" mentality. In fact, 43 percent of agents report that more customers are booking travel nine months to a year in advance, while 37 percent report higher bookings 12 to 18 months in advance. Last minute deal hunters are on the decline, as 20 percent of travel agents report a reduction in the number of travelers booking cruises less than three months out.
The data and research are compiled based on online survey responses from the CLIA Travel Agent Research Panel, which consists of 700 travel agents from North America.