The cruise industry is undergoing significant changes, driven by evolving consumer expectations and the changing demographics of cruise holidaymakers. Recent research conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Amadeus revealed that there is a significant opportunity for travel agents and cruise providers to tap into a huge new market of holidaymakers.
42% of the surveyed adults who holiday abroad and have never been on a cruise holiday said that they would be tempted to do so in the future. Moreover 30% of them would consider swapping an all-inclusive land holiday with an all-inclusive cruise trip of the same value, indicating their openness to trying a cruise trip.
It’s interesting to note that more than half of 25-34 year olds (52%) who holiday abroad and have never been on a cruise holiday would be tempted to go on a cruise. This clearly indicates that there is a significant growth potential in cruise travel. But achieving this will require a better understanding of consumers’ travel expectations and a new generation of cruise offerings that cater to their needs.
So what makes modern travellers tick?
According to the research modern travellers require more choice and personalisation. Choice of unique, interesting and hard to reach destinations was a top priority for 31% of the adults who holiday abroad. Travelling on smaller ships was favoured by 19% of the respondents, with another 19% expecting more activities on board. Being able to socialise with like-minded individuals and having a more personalised service was also high on the agenda for 18% and 17% of consumers respectively.
It’s worth noting that millennial travellers were more keen on personalisation than any other age group, with 25% of 18-24 years old respondents favouring a more personalised service on the ship compared to just 15% of 25-44 year olds.
However, despite the growing interest in cruise travel, cost still remains the biggest concern for UK travellers. The findings revealed that half of respondents worry about the overall travel cost and 35% are concerned about the perceived lack of transparency on additional charges.
The data also revealed that keeping up with the technology needs of modern travellers is a growing requirement for cruise providers and cruise travel agents. 62% of respondents in the survey said that they expected super fast Wi-Fi on the ship and nearly a third (30%) would like to have 24/7 technology support during their cruise holiday.
Another important area for consumers was the online booking process. Overall, 41% of travellers felt that it is easy to research and compare cruise holidays online, suggesting that travel sellers and cruise operators are on the right track when it comes to improving the online booking experience. However, millennial travellers (18-24) were twice as likely to be put off booking a cruise holiday because of the research and booking process compared to their older counterparts (10% vs. 4%).
This suggests that the youngest millennial travellers have higher expectations about the booking experience and require more sophisticated booking and research tools.
Not surprisingly, the findings revealed a correlation between consumers awareness about the benefits of cruise travel and their willingness to book a cruise holiday. While the majority of consumers seem to be aware of what they can do on a cruise holiday, almost a third (28%) of the respondents were unaware of the activity options on a cruise ship. Moreover, almost a third (32%) said that the cruise industry does not make cruise travel seem younger, fresh and appealing.
This goes to show that defying outdated pre-conceptions about cruise travel will continue to be a crucial success factor in how the industry engages with modern travellers - particularly with the growing proportion of millennials willing to try a cruise holiday.
The research data shows that there is a clear opportunity for travel sellers and cruise providers to communicate the breadth of product, wide range of experiences and value that cruise holidays offer to new and existing customers.
However, the ability to offer more personalised travel options and more choice to consumers will be essential for engaging with these travellers. Technology will be a key enabler of this change, allowing agents to improve customer engagement and personalisation and better match cruise offerings to the needs of modern travelers.