During the recent Cruise3Sixty conference, American Express Travel revealed the results of a recent internal cruise survey, which queried nearly 250 American Express Travel Counselors, including its Representative Network across the US.
According to the survey, customers continue to seek and book new cruise experiences, with 85 percent of respondents reporting their sales have not been impacted by the recent events within the cruise industry.
“As we saw from our proprietary survey – cruising is in high demand,” says Tony Gonchar, vice president of the Representative Network at American Express Travel and keynote speaker at Cruise3Sixty. “The great news about this industry is there is a cruise experience for everyone – from the launch of new ‘mega-ships’ to the increased popularity of river cruising. The industry has continuously evolved, and in turn, American Express Travel has created partnerships and programs to help agents meet the changing needs of the cruise consumer.”
Smaller Ships and River Cruises Make Waves: While mega-ships remain popular, 27 percent of respondents noted demand for river cruises and 38 percent are seeing an increase in requests for small ships. Known for visiting destinations that many larger ships simply cannot travel, smaller ship experiences are hot on the mind of consumers who want to explore unexpected locales. And while agents affirm that regions such as the Caribbean (22%) and the Mediterranean (37%) are highly sought after, they also report that new destinations have popped up on travelers’ radar, such as Italy’s Po River (19%); Cambodia and Vietnam on the Mekong River (27%); and throughout South America on the Amazon River (20%).
Sailing for Luxury, but Seeking Value at Sea: Nearly 75 percent of all surveyed found that balcony staterooms are the most requested rooming category, while 21 percent cite suites and penthouses as their most requested, with 69 percent seeing an increased demand for higher-end room categories, the study said.
Although cruisers may be seeking more luxurious accommodations, value is still key for many travelers. Fifty percent of travel counselors said an onboard credit is the most common request from clients and 84 percent feel discounts and offers such as free-air promotions and onboard credits are the most impactful tool to help them generate and drive cruise business. “Certainly, pricing is important, but Travel Counselors also have the ability to drive business through value-added programs which are often just as sought-after from consumers,” said Gonchar. Visit www.americanexpress.com