New research from Amadeus finds 42 per cent of adults who holiday abroad have never embarked on a cruise holiday, but would be tempted to do so in the future.
In addition, 30 per cent would consider swapping an all-inclusive land holiday with an all-inclusive cruise trip of the same value, presenting a significant opportunity for travel agents and the cruise industry to expand its customer base and change existing perceptions of cruise travel.
The representative survey of 2,000 British adults conducted in April by YouGov, provides insights into how consumers’ attitudes towards cruise travel are changing and highlights key opportunities in this space.
Choice, flexibility and personalisation were listed as the main priorities of the survey respondents, with a third of adults who holiday abroad stating they would be more likely to book a cruise holiday if they were offered more unique, interesting, or hard-to-reach destinations, followed by smaller cruise ships (19 per cent) and more activities on board (19 per cent).
Being able to travel with like-minded individuals and having a more personalised service was also high on the agenda for 18 per cent and 17 per cent of consumers respectively.
While findings suggest the demand for cruise travel this year is similar to previous years, with seven per cent of adults saying that they had already booked or were planning to book a cruise holiday in the next 12 months, a younger bracket of travellers who holiday abroad would be tempted to go on a cruise, even though they haven’t been on one to-date.
The data also revealed that there is still a clear opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of cruise travel; whilst a high number of holidaymakers were aware of the different services and activities offered on board, almost a third disagree that the industry makes cruise travel seem young, fresh and appealing to them.
The need for a tailored cruise experience was also evident in consumers’ concerns related to cruise travel.
Being stuck on a ship for an extended period of time was a off-putting for 44 per cent of respondents, followed by not being able to get away from holiday makers and not being able to set their own itinerary.
The findings indicate that overall, travel sellers and cruise operators are on the right track when it comes to improving the online booking experience with 41 per cent of travellers in the online survey saying they think it is easy to research and compare cruise holidays online.
There is however a divide in opinions based on age; millennial travellers were twice as likely to be put off booking a cruise holiday because of the research and booking process compared to their older counterparts (ten per cent against four per cent).
This suggests that the youngest millennial travellers have higher expectations about the booking experience and require more sophisticated booking and research tools.
When asked what they would want from a cruise booking agent, consumers continue to value high quality service with tailored advice.
Rated highest was the ability to provide up to date information on the latest offers and deals (41 per cent), followed by the ability to provide tailored travel options (38 per cent), expert advice on the best travel destinations (35 per cent) and speed of responses (34 per cent).
Rose Fernandez, director of marketing, Amadeus UK & Ireland, commented: “There is a clear opportunity for travel sellers and cruise providers to communicate the breadth of product, wide range of experiences and terrific value that cruise holidays offer to new and existing customers in 2015.
“Being able to propose more customised travel options will be essential for tapping into this huge market of consumers who, until now, haven’t traditionally opted for a cruise.
“Technology innovation that shapes the future of travel will play a key role, by enabling agents to drive customer engagement and personalisation.
“Tools such as Amadeus Lifestyle Search, for example, allow cruise consultants to filter potential offers based on the customer’s personal preferences.
“This will help quickly identify the cruise holiday that will be most appealing for any given customer.
“Defying outdated pre-conceptions about cruise travel will continue to be a crucial success factor in how the industry engages with modern travellers and particularly with the growing proportion of millennials willing to try a cruise holiday.”