TIR Apr_May18.pdf - Page 32

Cunard rewards early bookers
with more inclusions planned
Consultants can capitalise on Cunard’s latest product development,
with bonus inclusions and a new ship under construction.
By Sarah Cornwell
G Cunard’s fourth ship
will enter service in 2022.
A major revamp of the
Queen Mary 2 (pictured
above) was recently completed and £90-million
was allocated to refurbish
Queen Elizabeth.
G Cunard will visit Alaska
(Kodiak pictured below) for
the first time in 20 years
in 2019. The sailings are
part of the new Oceans of
Discovery programme, from
May to June next year. Other
maiden calls featured in the
programme include Boracay, Akita and Goa.
CUNARD’S International Account Manager EMEA Christina Hannon said, on a recent visit to
South Africa, there had been a significant increase in bookings from this country for Mediterranean sailings, world cruises and adventure destinations like South America.
“If you had booked Queen Elizabeth in November, it would have been less than it is now,” said
Shaun McCarthy, General Manager of Whitestar Cruise and Travel, Cunard’s GSA. 
He said the tendency to book last-minute deals had impacted sales patterns and discounts on
distressed inventory were now totally avoided.
Cunard returns to Alaska for the first time in 20 years in 2019 and sales targets for the new
destination had almost been achieved by the end of January, according to Ms. Hannon, who commented South Africa had produced more bookings than any other market in the EMEA region.
Whitestar has more than doubled its business in South Africa
in the past two years and 650 passengers are booked on a world
cruise this year. 
Mr. McCarthy said 90 percent of sales had come from 10
percent of agents, many of them smaller agencies in outlying
parts of South Africa. 
Travel agents were crucial, he said. “A cruise is still a longhaul destination for South Africans. It is not a rack ‘em, pack
‘em, stack ‘em, seven-night Mauritius package.”
Cunard is working on more special fares for the South African market, Ms. Hannon said. But Mr. McCarthy maintained
many of the major retail consortia were still missing out on the
growing cruise market.
“It is a mistake to sell on price. [The groups] become so focused on a two percent override…
but a Cunard passenger is still booking, so they will go to another retailer or come to us.” Agents
could be mistakenly so driven by overrides that they lose business, he said. 
International companies with mass-market buying power were a global phenomenon and
compete with general sales agents and traditional travel agents in many markets, including South
Africa, while direct sales were less of a threat to agents. 
Ms. Hannon maintained local expertise was needed to grow market share and the best way
was through a GSA.
“A cruise is not really a track that should be sold online or booked with a click. It has to be
explained [and] is best booked with a knowledgeable consultant…”
60 percent of passengers onboard any Cunard ship are repeat business, illustrating the value
of a cruise client.
Details were still being finalised, but Ms. Hannon said it would become “even more the strategy to give the early booked the advantage”.
She urged agents to sell on unique experiences. A fourth new ship entering service in 2022
would provide more opportunity to do that.
32 Travel Industry Review | February/March 2018

Virgin Atlantic

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