Brett Tollman, Toni Tollman and Ellen Bettridge

Brett Tollman, chief executive, The Travel Corporation and Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. 
Brett Tollman, chief executive, The Travel Corporation and Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

For Capturing The Millennial Mindset

Today, younger travelers are beginning to discover the immersive value and experiential aspects of river cruising plus many lines carry bicycles onboard for guest use or offer active shore options. No river line, though, has delved deeper into the Millennial mindset than Uniworld, which recently launched its new U by Uniworld brand on sailings along France’s Seine River and central Europe’s Rhine, Main and Danube waterways. 

Instrumental in developing/introducing the new brand — specifically designed to appeal to Millennials and others with a modern, social, experiential and active mindset — were Brett Tollman, chief executive, The Travel Corporation, a third-generation hotelier and travel/tourism veteran with more than 30 years of travel industry experience, and Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, who has previous experience with such brands as Azamara Club Cruises, Silversea Cruises and American Express. In addition, Tollman’s sister Toni Tollman, director of design and products, Red Carnation Hotels and Uniworld, created the striking, one-of-a-kind U By Uniworld interiors. 

Toni Tollman, director of design and products, Red Carnation Hotels and Uniworld

Two dedicated, newly revitalized ships are delivering the product — the former River Ambassador, renamed The A, and River Baroness, now The B. Outside, the vessels sport a sleek black look with neon logos. Inside, cruisers will find eclectic cabin choices from suites to cabins with bunk beds, as well as communal dining, social spaces, many technology outlets/features and a virtual nightclub (with DJ music pumped through headsets to maintain quiet). Local U Hosts lead shore experiences, taking guests to favorite local hot spots and hidden city gems well into the night.  

New brands typically have adjustments along the way. In that regard, U By Uniworld broadened its age specification (21 to 45) to now include adults of any age (21 and up) with a modern, active, social vacation mindset. Agents report the experienced staff, many veterans who’ve worked for Uniworld or the Travel Corporation’s youth-focused Contiki brand, are eager to receive feedback and make adjustments.

Only time will tell if the effort to create a separate younger-mindset brand becomes what the line had hoped or as impactful in attracting Millennials as the industry desires. One fact is clear, though: The Tollmans and Bettridge are credited by agents for being proactive, for seizing the moment and for proactively designing and launching an innovative, new kind of river brand that has potential to draw in “new to river cruise” clients. 

Brett Tollman, Toni Tollman and Ellen Bettridge

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