Business is growing but the trade needs to get on board
Seven in 10 expedition cruise companies grew business this year but agents need to improve their knowledge of the sector, according to a new study.
Africa is the destination most in demand from the travel trade, according to a report by the Expedition Cruise Network (ECN), but more than half of travel trade respondents say their knowledge of expedition cruise is lacking.
The report said: “There is a need to up-skill travel agents on the expedition cruise sector, including knowledge on the range of destinations, operators and products. For a high-value product, such as expedition cruise, agents need to understand the nuances of the sector to secure sales.”
HX Hurtigruten Expeditions is sold by 64% of trade respondents, closely followed by Silversea Expeditions (61%), Seabourn Expeditions (43%) and Ponant (40%).
Overall, the market share remains diverse, with 18 companies seeing their product sold by at least 10% of travel trade respondents.
Thirty-nine per cent of travel trade respondents named Africa as an expedition cruise destination they want to see further developed with more trips being offered in the future.
The range of new destinations demonstrate that there is an “enormous appetite” among the travel trade to be able to sell new regions.
The other dominant trends in expedition cruising relate to sustainability. Almost three quarters (71%) say sustainability will play a bigger role in consumer choice, with an identical percentage also believing that ships and expedition cruise operators need to improve their environmental practises and footprint.
Expedition Cruise Network chief executive Akvile Marozaite said: “We are delighted to publish the Expedition Cruise Insights Report 2023-24, which gives travel trade professionals and operators insight into the current state of the sector and how we can overcome the challenges the industry faces together.
“Expedition Cruising is a key travel trend. The sector has experienced steep growth in both consumer demand and capacity over the past few years and in 2024 we will begin to see more mature growth with a pressing impetus on sustainability. But the future is bright. Many of our expedition cruise operator members are innovators in pioneering measures to protect the remote, fragile environments and local communities we all hold so dearly.
“We set up the Expedition Cruise Network this year following two years of the sector doubling in size and a rising demand from expedition cruise operators for an authentic, trustworthy and authoritative voice in the sector. The inaugural insights report, combining information from voices across the sector, plays a key role in helping understand how to best promote expedition cruising as an incredible choice for travellers from around the world.”