Arranging pre- and post-cruise stays in Europe for clients can be something of a hassle. But new offerings from tour operators are making it more convenient for agents.
One example: Classic Vacations’ newly-announced set of pre- and post-cruise land packages. They’re available in 45 ports of call and include transfers, tours, excursions, and accommodations.
Agents can create a custom package or select a ready-to-go option, divided into Gold, Silver and Bronze levels. In addition to Classic’s luxury properties, agents can select hotels through the Expedia Affiliate Network. They can also choose tours through Classic Vacations partner Viator.
“We saw a need for this product. Travel advisors often struggle to find an easy way to book pre and post. We wanted to create an elegant solution to save them time and make sure their clients were well taken care of. Although we already had this in our Europe product line, we’ve added 45 new cities. We’ve doubled our footprint to accommodate the growing cruise business. River cruising in particular is gaining more popularity,” Jonna Jackson, senior director of global product for Classic Vacations, tells Travel Agent.
According to Jackson, Rome, Athens, Barcelona and Venice are some of the most popular destinations for pre-and post-cruise stays. They’ve recently added Copenhagen and offer Hamburg, Basel and Munich to accommodate river cruise itineraries.
The pre-and post-cruise niche is also booming at Funjet Vacations.
"We definitely encourage agents to put together a pre- or post-cruise experience for their clients with us. A lot of times agents don't want to book the options that the cruise lines offer. They may not have the flexibility or selection that clients are looking for. So we're happy to be a resource for agents in this increasingly important niche. Plus, we have an incredible selection of hotels on funjetagent.com and we pay full commission on the hotel portion of scheduled air vacations,” Lynn Clark, vice president travel agency engagement for Funjet Vacations, says.
Clark adds that Funjet sells scheduled air to over 900 destinations worldwide, including open jaw flights. That’s a good option for cruise itineraries in Europe. And they pay five percent commission on scheduled air vacations.
Cox & Kings is another operator shining the spotlight on layover stays. Their new Spotlight Journeys are single-destination packages designed for a quick getaway or a combined stay. But they also fit the bill for cruise clients.
Spotlight Journeys include a half-day customized sightseeing excursion with a private guide or driver. Hotel accommodations are in four or five-star properties. Destinations include London, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Rome and Venice.
“Our new Spotlight Journeys offer travelers great flexibility. Whether they are looking to extend their trip or add on a land portion to a European river cruise, these quick 4-day journeys allow travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a classic European city and discover it at their own pace,” says Scott Wiseman, president, the Americas, Cox & Kings.
Tour operators aren’t the only ones noticing an uptick in pre-and post-cruise interest. Lisa Byrne, founder of ItalyPerfect.com, specializes in apartment and villa rentals.
“We’re seeing a lot more cruise clients who want to mix things up. They enjoy the cruise aspect of their holiday, but also want to visit a few key destinations in more depth. It’s a great opportunity for agents who have a substantial Mediterranean cruise business,” Byrne tells Travel Agent.
Byrne works with agents to secure a pre or post-cruise stay for their clients in popular cities such as Rome or Florence.
“Clients are interested in getting off the cruise ship and enjoying a couple of days with more space and privacy. They want to do their own cooking and do their laundry before they go home. Apartments with a washer and a dryer are in huge demand. It’s getting more popular to want to de-stress from the cruise before heading home,” said Byrne.