Expedia Cruises Highlights the Importance of Data, Technology and a Partnership Mindset for Industry Recovery
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE) – Expedia Group today released new data and demographics to help agents and cruise lines meet demand during their Expedia Cruises 2021 Virtual Conference. Cruise executives at the leading online travel agency also highlighted the need for the industry to understand the evolving roles of agents, leverage new technology for a more seamless experience for travelers and agents, and respond to new and evolving demands.
New data and demographics to help agents and cruise lines better target demand
The average cruise booking duration increased from nine days in Q1 2019 to 11 days in Q1 2021, and the average spend per stateroom also increased a little more than 100% for Q1 2021 bookings compared to Q1 2019 bookings1which shows the willingness of some cruise travelers to spend more on their cruise than they did before the pandemic.
With US vaccination rates rising and travel restrictions eased, 44% of new bookings in the first quarter were in the US market for 2021 departures, including 20% for this summer – showing people wanting to return to cruising as soon as possible.2
Newly published research has also shown that the desire for cruises also encompasses different age groups: Although Millennials (53%) and Gen Zers (56%) are equally comfortable with cruises, Millennials (12%) are almost twice as likely as Gen Zers (7%) have booked a cruise for some time in the next six months.3
New research has also shown that while travelers are currently spending more per cabin, in some markets lower prices are more important on cruises than on other forms of travel. According to a study that looked at what travelers value most when booking a trip, cruises were the only line of business where travelers from numerous countries rated low prices as the highest value. Regardless, younger generations tend to think more about eco-friendly policies when cruising, especially with Gen Z in North America, which collectively ranks them second by value.4th
Industry-leading technology and training to help agents and travelers have a smoother experience
Expedia Group executives also shared an increased focus on technology and a desire for their cruise business to become a leader in digital experiences and content, deals and transparent pricing, and service and travel management by taking full advantage of the company’s platform capabilities Assisting support agents and serving travelers as efficiently as possible.
The Cruise Search Results (CSR) tool, also known as grid view, is a direct result of affiliates wanting a more agent-centric experience so they can shop and compare cruises more efficiently on behalf of their travelers. The tool has been very successful since its launch this year and was updated last week to allow agents to share up to five cruise routes in one email with just a few clicks, simplifying the shopping experience for both agents and travelers.
A new ‘info page’ experience for cruise buyers to be rolled out in the coming months. The site provides customers with helpful information about what is on board the ship, what is included in the cost of the cruise, and what experiences travelers can have in each port of call. The site is an integral part of the educational experience for travelers. The website will continue to evolve as the company focuses on being the place to go to the cruiser when they are ready to discover, dream and envision their next cruise vacation.
The ongoing relocation of franchisees and vacation consultants from Cruise Desk to Expedia Group Partner Central, our technology platform for travel partners that makes it easy for them to efficiently search and shop for cruises, manage their travelers through Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, perform administrative tasks, create marketing materials and generate reports.
- Further focus on omnichannel strategy Match the Expedia Group’s online and offline shopping experience, improve the travel experience by providing more options to purchase through their preferred method (in-store, mobile, web or phone), and increase visibility and conversion for cruise partners on the Expedia Group websites. Omnichannel also enables cruise partners to better understand and target different demographics, which enables improved personalization and helps transform first-time travelers into loyal cruise ships.
- Ongoing sales training Enabling franchisees and vacation consultants to achieve their optimum, restore the trust of many after a break, and eliminate friction losses when searching for a cruise, booking and managing travel. The youngest trainees to complete the Expedia Cruises Princess 3-Day Sale training received eight times more bookings during the Princess Cruises 3-Day Sale this year than those who did not complete the training.
A media round table, moderated by Charles Sylvia, VP of Industry and Trade Relations at Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), also looked at the changing role of agents since the pandemic. No longer just a ‘book and go’ mentality, the panel’s message was the need to adapt, upgrade and be better informed to support travelers during this challenging time. Agents are now more than ever seen as advisors and trusted advisors to cruise travelers who inevitably have many more questions about their trip than ever before, including details on health and safety logs and complex refunds and credits. The conference will also welcome special guest speaker on the final day, Captain Kate McCue of Celebrity Cruises, who shares her insights on how the pandemic has affected shipping and their experiences.
Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia Cruises, said, “It is really wonderful to have so many of our franchisees, vacation consultants and other industry partners join us this week to discuss the future of cruising. The conference theme is “The time is now” and we have never felt so much energy from our partners and travelers to get back on cruises as soon as possible. Almost 70% of conference attendees said in a pre-conference survey that the industry will return to 2019 demand levels by the end of 2022, so there is great optimism. To get there, industry experts have highlighted the importance of data, technology and collaboration as keys to this growth, and at Expedia Cruises we are committed to supporting our franchisees, vacation consultants and cruise partners on this journey. ”
Certain mainstage recordings will be available after the conference, please contact the press contact below for more information.
Via the Expedia Group
Expedia Group enables travel for everyone, anywhere through our global platform. Driven by the fundamental belief that travel is a force for good, we help people experience the world in new ways and forge lasting connections. We provide industry-leading technology solutions to fuel the growth and success of our partners while delivering unforgettable experiences for travelers. The Expedia Group family of brands includes: Brand Expedia®, Hotels.com®, Expedia® Partner Solutions, Vrbo®, Egencia®, trivago®, Orbitz®, Travelocity®, Hotwire®, Wotif®, ebookers®, CheapTickets®, Expedia Group ™ Media Solutions, Expedia Local Expert®, CarRentals.com ™ and Expedia Cruises ™.
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© 2021 Expedia, Inc., an Expedia group of companies. All rights reserved. Expedia and the Expedia Cruises logo are trademarks of Expedia, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. CST no. 2029030-50 and CST no. 20893-43
1 Only through Expedia Group retail stores
2 Expedia Group Cruise Demand Dates in North America, Q1 2021
3 Expedia Group and Morning Consult, American travel survey, 2200 respondents, May 2021
4th Expedia Group and Wakefield Research, June 2021