More than 40% of British adults would consider a cruise holiday in future, according to new research commissioned by Amadeus.
The representative survey of 2,000 British adults conducted in April by YouGov, provides insights into how consumers’ attitudes towards cruise travel are changing and highlights key opportunities in this space.
The report also found that 30% of respondents would consider swapping an all-inclusive land holiday with an all-inclusive cruise trip of the same value, presenting a significant opportunity for travel agents and the cruise industry to expand its customer base and change existing perceptions of cruise travel.
Choice, flexibility and personalisation were listed as the main priorities of the survey respondents, with 31% of adults who holiday abroad stating they would be more likely to book a cruise holiday if they were offered more unique, interesting, or hard-to-reach destinations, followed by smaller cruise ships (19%) and more activities on board (19%). Being able to travel with like-minded individuals and having a more personalised service was also high on the agenda for 18% and 17% of consumers respectively.
Whilst findings suggest the demand for cruise travel this year is similar to previous years, with 7% of adults saying that they had already booked or were planning to book a cruise holiday in the next 12 months, a younger bracket of travellers who holiday abroad (52% of 25-34 year olds) would be tempted to go on a cruise, even though they haven’t been on one to-date.
Millennial travellers were most keen on personalisation, with 25% of 18-24 year old respondents favouring a more personalised service on the ship compared to just 15% of 25-44 year olds. This is also evidenced by the fact that the proportion of all young adults (18-24 year olds) who said not being able to set their own itinerary would put them off a cruise has increased significantly in the past two years, from 26% in 2013 to 39% in 2015.
The data also revealed that there is still a clear opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of cruise travel; whilst a high number of holidaymakers were aware of the different services and activities offered on board, almost a third (32%) disagree that the industry makes cruise travel seem young, fresh and appealing to them.
The need for a tailored cruise experience was also evident in consumers’ concerns related to cruise travel. Being stuck on a ship for an extended period of time was a off-putting for 44% of respondents, followed by not being able to get away from holiday makers (38%) and not being able to set their own itinerary (29%).
Despite industry concerns about discounting, cost still remains the top concern of travellers, with 50% of respondents worrying about the overall travel cost and 35% about the perceived lack of transparency on additional charges. It’s interesting to note that the percentage of all young adults (18-24 year olds) who perceive cruise travel as too expensive has grown by 12% in the last two years: from 40% in 2013 to 52% in 2015.
The findings indicate that overall, travel sellers and cruise operators are on the right track when it comes to improving the online booking experience with 41% of travellers in the online survey saying they think it is easy to research and compare cruise holidays online. There is however a divide in opinions based on age; 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.
When asked what they would want from a cruise booking agent, consumers continue to value high-quality service with tailored advice. Rated highest was the ability to provide up to date information on the latest offers and deals (41%), followed by the ability to provide tailored travel options (38%), expert advice on the best travel destinations (35%) and speed of responses (34%).
Technology on-board is another key requirement with consumers expecting cruise companies to keep up with their technology needs; 62% of respondents would want super fast WiFi on the ship and nearly a third (30%) want 24/7 technology support during their cruise holiday.
Rose Fernandez, director of Marketing, Amadeus UK and Ireland, commented: “There is a clear opportunity for travel sellers and cruise providers to communicate the breadth of product, wide range of experiences and terrific value that cruise holidays offer to new and existing customers in 2015. Being able to propose more customised travel options will be essential for tapping into this huge market of consumers who, until now, haven’t traditionally opted for a cruise.
“Technology innovation that shapes the future of travel will play a key role, by enabling agents to drive customer engagement and personalisation. Tools such as Amadeus Lifestyle Search, for example, allow cruise consultants to filter potential offers based on the customer’s personal preferences. This will help quickly identify the cruise holiday that will be most appealing for any given customer.
“Defying outdated pre-conceptions about cruise travel will continue to be a crucial success factor in how the industry engages with modern travellers and particularly with the growing proportion of millennials willing to try a cruise holiday.”