At the CLIA Conference in May, I announced two up-coming flagship CLIA events taking place this year and a new event in 2018 – Cruise360 in Copenhagen in September, the CLIA River Cruise Conference in November, and our Asia River Cruise Conference in Vietnam in April 2018.
Of course, our smaller regional events in the UK will continue, as will our CLIA Conference in Southampton in May, which has now become the UK’s biggest travel agent conference.
But these new overseas events allow CLIA to showcase not just the cruise industry, our cruise line partners, training, inspirational speakers and some amazing ships; but also to talk about ‘destination’ – and indeed the importance of destination and destination knowledge will take central stage at Cruise360 in Copenhagen with the theme ‘discover together’, featuring some special guest speakers and some destination themed Masterclass sessions.
Given the incredible innovation and investment in new ships and the refurbishment of existing ships, it is often easy to forget the tremendous importance that destination plays in attracting new guests to the sector, and in appealing to those who have cruised in the past. The old USP of cruising – “seeing multiple destinations whilst unpacking only once” – may sound dated; but it is as relevant today as it has always been.
Cruises give guests the chance to visit places that many people may not have previously considered for a holiday; and with the variety of shore excursion experiences offered by cruise lines, guests are able to explore these places in ways not even possible with other holiday types.
Add to that the fact that many ships now stay in port overnight, or for longer, or even for multiple overnights; and the fact that cruise ships visit many thousands of ocean and river cruise places globally, it is clear that experiencing destinations is at the heart of the cruise holiday experience.
So our knowledge of destinations and the experiences available when in port is central to our ability to sell cruise holidays, particularly to those who are ‘yet to cruise’. Our destination knowledge needs to be as good as our knowledge of ships and onboard facilities, and we need to bring those shore-side experiences ‘alive’.
CLIA and our cruise line members can greatly help with that knowledge and expertise – and to get fully immersed in the cruise destinations why not join us in Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Vietnam.