A recent travel agent poll released by Travel Guard was devised to learn more about their clients’ purchasing habits during wave season. Results are below.
It’s The Economy: With reports on the fiscal cliff dominating the news at the tail end of 2012, 41 percent of agents polled feel that the most significant cruise trend this year will be bookings made primarily based upon affordability. Agents also anticipate that no-fly cruises from local ports will become increasingly more popular (34 percent) and, supporting the ongoing trend in multigenerational travel, agents feel more people will choose cruises based upon what is offered for multiple generations of their family (12 percent). Fewer agents felt that the availability of experiential excursions (9 percent) would drive cruise bookings.
After Effects of Costa Concordia: Despite Costa Concordia incident dominating headlines in early 2012, the majority of agents (45 percent) feel that enough time has passed that it will not affect bookings in 2013. Among agents who think that the incident could still affect bookings, 26 percent believe that those who have not cruised in the past may consider cruising. Twenty-three percent of agents believe that the incident will result in more cruisers purchasing travel insurance just in case something goes awry.
Adventure on the High Seas vs. A Little R&R: Of the agents polled, 40 percent reported that clients find high-energy excursions interesting but are more interested in rest and relaxation. On the flip side, 34 percent of agents polled reported those interested in these types of excursions are booking well in advance in order to ensure their spot on the excursion.
Ports of Call: While the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are perennial hotspots for cruising, agents polled noted that Alaska also remains a popular cruise destination, with 44 percent of agents noting that it is generating the most interest among their clients. According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the demand for river cruising continues to rise, growing by 10 percent in the last five years, and that most business is driven by the destination. Agents polled by Travel Guard echoed this sentiment, with 40 percent reporting that European river cruising was generating the most interest among clients, compared with only 4 percent who noted U.S. river cruising as generating the most interest. Other destinations listed in the survey, South Pacific, South America and the Middle East are proving to still not be as mainstream with few agents identifying these as locales generating interest.
Ride the Wave: Booking a cruise during wave season often equals perks for cruisers, and agents polled reported on-board credits (33 percent) as being the most desirable among their clients, followed closely by cabin upgrades (28 percent), free airfare (27 percent) and prepaid gratuities (11 percent).
A Three Hour Tour, or More: In 2013, the overwhelming majority of cruisers (77 percent) are planning a six to nine night itinerary, with far fewer traveling for 10 to 13 nights (10 percent), four to five nights (8 percent), 14 or more nights (4 percent) or three nights (less than 1 percent).