Get your cruise business ship shape

Peter Whittle, global sales director at Traveltek, which recently launched a Middle East operation in Dubai, explains how the region’s travel agents can harness technology to make the most of growing demand for cruise

The global cruise industry is growing at a rapid rate with 25.3 million people set to take a cruise holiday this year, up from 24.2 million in 2016, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) figures. New and existing cruisers are drawn to the increasing number of ships being built, with the cruise market now offering something for everyone in terms of ship size, budget and experience.

Savvy destinations are responding by building bigger cruise terminals and introducing new exciting on-shore itinerary options to entice new ships and more passengers, and the Gulf countries are no exception. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain are all rapidly developing their cruise and tourism infrastructure to entice new ships and more passengers.

At the close of the 2016-2017 cruise season, Dubai, which is the GCC’s biggest cruise destination, welcomed 157 ships and more than 625,000 cruise tourists, up 15% year on year. By 2020, Dubai Tourism expects this figure to cross the one million mark.

Dubai Marina

In neighbouring Abu Dhabi, the cruise tourism segment has achieved a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.7% over the last five years, according to a report by Oxford Economics, commissioned by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), Abu Dhabi Ports and Etihad Airways. It forecasts further sustained growth of 10.5% CAGR to reach 450,000 cruise passengers by 2020, rising to 808,428 in 2025.

At the same time, the Gulf’s outbound cruise market is on the brink of a boom as more travellers, particularly families, start to appreciate the benefits of cruising. The region’s travel industry is selling it better too as cruise lines ramp up their marketing efforts and provide leisure and cruise agents with training and incentives to get their clients cruising.

Many agencies across the GCC are growing their cruise business at double- and even triple-digit rates year on year, but it is involving a lot of time and effort. Creating bespoke cruises and itineraries remains a labour-intensive process in this region, requiring travel professionals to manually package every component of the trip to the point that it could start to impede growth given demand for cruise is on the rise.

Technology in the cruise industry

Technology can change this by automating these complex processes, but until recently, there was no technology provider offering the region’s travel trade advanced dynamic packaging capabilities that included cruise.

Traveltek, a UK-headquartered travel technology specialist that has won global awards for its cruise and dynamic packaging solutions, is now offering the region’s travel trade a much more efficient way of selling leisure and cruise travel, enabling travel professionals to hand-pick every component of a complex travel itinerary and sell it as one package, including flights, hotels, tours, transfers, car rental, attractions tickets and more.

Our cruise solutions empower agents to package together pre- and post-cruise itineraries using a unified, web-based platform and our single API connection provides them with access to more than 300 global industry suppliers including consolidated cruise content from 190 of the world’s leading lines. We are the first provider in the region to offer travel agencies the ability to dynamically package cruise with flights, accommodation and other add-ons, which drives huge efficiencies.

Traveltek’s cruise content also offers detail on products, from cabin grades to their location on the deck. With the Middle East’s inbound and outbound cruise sector on the cusp of a major growth phase, now is the time to get ahead of the competition.

With Traveltek establishing a presence in the Middle East, the company is looking to play a key role in driving the growth of the region’s cruise industry. We aim to educate agents about the revenue- and commission-earning opportunities selling cruises can deliver and how technology can maximise this sales potential.

We have appointed two experienced industry professionals to drive the growth of our Middle East business – Vinod Singh comes on board as Regional Manager, Middle East and India and Vivek Katheriya joins the team as Regional Sales Manager, India and MENA. Both recruits bring vast Middle East travel technology experience to their roles, having worked for reputable industry players. To find out more about Traveltek’s Middle East launch, click here. We hope you’ll jump on board with us soon!

About Traveltek

Traveltek has been delivering cutting-edge solutions to travel agents, tour operators and wholesalers for almost two decades. The Glasgow-headquartered company, which has offices in the Midlands (UK), Sydney, Miami and Dubai, offers a comprehensive range of finely-tuned products that meet the unique needs of the global travel trade, helping companies remain top of their game in today’s fiercely competitive market place.

Traveltek’s portfolio features dynamic packaging solutions; consumer-facing websites; integrated booking platforms for staff and clients; back-office systems that produce bookings reports and client documentation; a CRM to manage clients and enquiries; a tour operating platform that controls pricing and distributes contracts; and an API that connects travel companies to a global database of leading travel suppliers.

Recognised as the ‘World Leading Dynamic Packaging Solutions Provider’ at the World Travel Awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Traveltek offers its valued travel partners bespoke solutions that help them work smarter, improve their bottom line and enhance customer experience and retention. For more information, visit

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