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Cruise Industry Must Work Together to Unlock Cruise Potential

Amadeus held its annual Cruise Partner Forum in Brighton, United Kingdom, on 25
and 26 May. The highlight of the event, a panel discussion on “Electronic
distribution trends: present and future” attended by travel agents, cruise
operators and technology suppliers alike, concluded that simplifying the
reservation process is the secret to unlocking potential growth in the
cruise industry. The panellists and audience agreed that working together
in partnership is the most effective way to achieve this. 
Before the panel discussion, William Gibbons, Director of the Passenger
Shipping Association, presented figures from the UK market which indicated
a potential market of 7.7 million cruise holidays. “The potential in
Europe is absolutely enormous,” concluded Mr Gibbons.

Automating bookings is key to making the most of this growth and cruise
lines are not blind to the cost benefits of moving bookings from the
telephone onto an automated booking channel - either via a travel agent
booking through an electronic distribution system or over the internet.
“Selling a cruise is a complex process. It probably takes four or five
phone calls and the cruise lines have set commissions at a level which
makes it worth the travel agencies’ while to support those calls,”
explains Robert Chamberlin, Global Sales Manager, Amadeus Cruise. Travel
agency commissions start at around 10% which is not to be sniffed at when
the customer is booking a EUR5,000 cruise, and airline commissions are at,

“Three years ago, about 25% of cruise bookings were automated,” estimates
Mr Chamberlin.  “Now that figure is closer to 45% or 50%.” This rapid
growth is borne out by Amadeus’ own worldwide cruise bookings which shot
up by 94% in 2004. So far this year, Amadeus UK bookings have grown by
150% compared with last year. 

Amadeus began simplifying cruise bookings with the launch of Amadeus
Cruise two years ago. The cruise distribution, marketing and sales tool
provides real-time reservations information enabling agents to sell simply
and quickly. The booking process is supported by an intuitive, graphical
user interface which eliminates the need for agents to learn time
consuming cryptic entries.