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Traveltek Hails 2018 ‘Year of the Cruise’ as Travel Agencies Look to Capitalise on Booming Sector

Traveltek Group Ltd has hailed 2018 the ‘year of the cruise’ in anticipation of another huge upswing in demand for holidays at sea – and increasingly, on the river.

The Glasgow-headquartered travel technology specialist is making further enhancements to its cruise technology as travel companies in all of its key markets – the UK, North America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East – look to capitalise on this booming sector.

And with eight out of 10 agents anticipating a significant increase in year-on-year ocean and river cruise sales in 2018, according to the latest statistics from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), driven by several passenger source markets worldwide, as well as growing demand from Millennials and ‘Skip-gen’ family groups, the company is working closely with the trade to tailor its offering according to their individual requirements.

This will include refining its next-generation cruise booking platform CruiseNX, launched in 2017, which introduced several new-to-market User Experience (UX) enhancements, as well as looking at the specific industry needs of each region where Traveltek is now based following its 2017 global expansion drive.

“With CLIA projecting 27.2 million cruise passengers this year, sourced from established markets such as the US and UK, but increasingly, new ones including Asia and the Middle East, Traveltek is calling 2018 the ‘year of the cruise’ and making product and business development in this sector a key priority,” said Peter Whittle, Global Sales Director, Traveltek Group Ltd.

“As the number of first-time sea and river cruisers swells, spurred by new ships and experiences, there has never been a better time to sell cruise and by leveraging our cruise packaging technology, unrivalled content and B2C booking platform, the travel trade can drive more sales through multiple channels.”

Whittle added: “To ensure leisure bookers and cruise agents make the most of this all-time-high demand for cruise, we are collaborating with our key agency and cruise line partners to make further enhancements to what we offer, while factoring in the nuances of each market in which we now operate.”

North America and Europe, including the UK, remain the largest cruise source markets accounting for 50% and 27% of all passengers respectively, CLIA figures reveal.

The UK generated 1.9 million ocean cruise passengers in 2016, up 5.6% on 2015, and is Europe’s second largest source market with a 28.3% share. It is also the fourth largest cruise market globally.

“With the volume of ocean cruise passengers expected to top two million by 2020 and demand for river cruising growing at an even more rapid rate, Traveltek is making technology upgrades to help the UK travel trade keep pace,” explained Whittle.

CruiseNX offers travel and cruise specialists a wide range of enhanced capabilities designed to drive productivity and enhance the user experience and is available for desktop and as a new B2C website journey.

From a more streamlined booking process and the ability to book multiple cabins in one search journey, to fast filtering that helps agents find the ideal cruise based customer preferences and profiles, CruiseNX is designed to transform the way the industry sells cruise.

Traveltek also offers unrivalled content of 190-plus cruise lines, multi-currency and multi-language capabilities, plus dynamic packaging tools that help bookers create bespoke packages that include every component of a pre- and post-cruise itinerary.

As part of the global cruise boom, CLIA is predicting several trends, including an increase in the number of Millennials booking river cruises, more ‘skip-gen’ cruising (grandparents travelling with their grandchildren), plus an uptick in demand for cruises to chilly climes, as well as wellness- and fitness-focused itineraries.

“Add to the mix the trade’s improved understanding of the vast range of cruise experiences and products now on offer, and the potential to bring on board more cruisers in 2018 is significant,” said Whittle.

“If savvy agents use their know-how and our technology, the results could be mind-blowing.”