The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports the launch of a CLIA Specialty Cruise Collection initiative to support and promote small ship, river, coastal, luxury, adventure, and sailing ship member lines. The initiative seeks to enhance and extend the marketing and communications reach of 13 CLIA member lines, CLIA says.
Using the theme “Experience the World in a Different Way,” the CLIA initiative encompasses marketing and public relations strategies, travel agent training, trade show representation and other activities. The program is designed to heighten consumer and trade awareness of the exceptional and growing diversity of specialized cruise experiences offered throughout the world by CLIA member lines, CLIA says.
As a group, the CLIA Specialty Cruise Collection, created in collaboration with a task force of collection members, encompasses ships ranging in size from less than a hundred to more than a thousand passengers. The ships are mostly built for specific experiences, including adventure or river cruises, wind-powered or yacht-style luxury, longer voyages to the most exotic destinations in the world, CLIA says. This includes coastal voyages in North America and Norway, even a newly built stern paddlewheeler.
Collectively, the group offers virtually every type and length of cruise in destinations throughout the world and at almost every price level, including ultra-luxury, CLIA notes.
Together the group also creates an authentic “world” of cruising defined by the unique opportunity they offer for guests to share the experience of interacting intimately with the world, its landscapes, cultures and people. Strongly destination focused, the itinerary choices of these ships typically play a strong motivating role in consumers’ selection of a specialty cruise.
A July 2012 survey of CLIA-member travel agents affirmed the importance and value of providing branding and marketing support for the specialty cruise segment of the industry, CLIA noted. According to respondents, this category of cruising already represents five to 45 percent of agent business and almost 60 percent of respondents described it as a growing sales opportunity.
Among the factors that drive consumer interest in special cruising are, in order:
• Social interaction and friendships made with fellow passengers
• Appeal to all age groups
• Specialized culinary experiences onboard and shoreside
• Interesting shore activities and sightseeing
• Perception of greater degree of specialized and personal services
While older and more affluent consumers are prime customers for specialty cruising, agents responding to the survey also indicated growing appeal for all ages of travelers, first-time cruisers, family and multigenerational groups and younger and less affluent travelers.
Looking ahead, CLIA said agents predicted the specialty cruise segment would be characterized by increasing globalization of itineraries around the world, more shipboard amenities and activities, greater focus on cultural activities, more luxury and purpose-built ships for coastal, river and adventure travel, even larger “boutique” ships.
“We are very pleased to introduce CLIA’s Specialty Cruise Collection to complement, support and extend the marketing reach of a very important and growing segment of our membership,” said Christine Duffy, CLIA’s president and CEO.
“The members of the Collection offer amazingly diverse vacation experiences yet share an immensely enjoyable quality and perspective on the world. CLIA is committed to help these companies, and others that may wish to join the Collection, to heighten their impact in the consumer marketplace and provide our travel agent members with valuable tools to help them sell these exciting vacation opportunities,” Duffy said.
In support of the Specialty Cruise Collection, CLIA said it will seek to identify promotional and media opportunities for the group as well as special industry events for participation. New travel agent training modules showcasing the benefits of selling these categories of member cruise lines are also being developed.
The Collection will be featured in CLIA communications such as the CLIA Today newsletter and will have its own landing page on the new CLIA website. Public relations activities will include a Specialty Cruise Collection press kit, news and feature releases focusing on the unique character of specialty cruising and the products offered by cruise line members of the collection.
Social media will be used to communicate the diversity and value of specialty cruise opportunities and surveys of agents and consumers will be conducted to monitor trends and attitudes, CLIA said.
The CLIA member lines that comprise the Specialty Cruise Collection include: AmaWaterways, American Cruise Lines, Avalon Waterways, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Hurtigruten, Louis Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Windstar Cruises.