Hays Travel wants cruise sales to account for 30% of its total business by the end of its next financial year in April 2024.
At the moment, cruise accounts for a little over 23% of Hays’ business, up from 16% in 2019.
Hays Head of Cruise Catriona Parsons told retail managers attending the company’s conference in Bodrum last week that the goal was to reach 26% by the end of April 2023.
Speaking to Travel Gossip during the conference, Hays Chair Dame Irene Hays said the ultimate goal was for cruise to reach 30% by the end of the company’s next financial year.
“We want to grow overall, there is huge growth in simple-to-book package holidays, but we want to change the direction to cruise and longhaul. Currently the cruise lines are giving us better commission levels (than land-based operators),” she said.
“We will always listen to the customer first, but we are telling those who are undecided about where to go that for a little extra a month on direct debit they can book a cruise, which offers more value.”
She said that with so many new ships coming into the market this year, prices for families were getting closer to the cost of land-based holidays.
Chief Operating Office Jonathan Woodall-Johnston pointed out that over the past 18 months cruise lines have started targeting families with offers such as free child places. “They never did this before,” he said.
“Cruise lines are really investing in the market, and they have a lot of beds to fill. So we’re saying to agents, if a customer comes in and wants a waterpark, think cruise.”
Jonathan said another advantage of selling cruise is the long lead times as many lines already have cruises on sale for 2025. “Now, with a direct debit, you can book a cruise for 2025 just £8 a month,” he added.