Ponant’s sales chief woos UK agents in bid for more British passengers

By Harry Kemble
Home » Ponant’s sales chief woos UK agents in bid for more British passengers

French cruise line Ponant recorded its best-ever month in the UK in March and now wants to increase the number of British passengers it carries on its ships.

International Sales Director Stephen Winter said he aims to source between 3,000 and 4,000 passengers from the UK each year. Currently, around 1,000 Brits book with the line annually.

Around 65 UK agents sold at least one Ponant cruise last year, the highest number of active sellers the line has ever achieved in this country over a 12-month period, said Stephen.

This week, more than 70 agents have joined a Ponant seminar-at-sea sailing on ice-breaking expedition ship Le Commandant Charcot from Southampton to French port city Brest.

The 245-passenger ship, which launched in September 2021, normally operates in the polar regions but an opportunity in its programme allowed Ponant to host its largest-ever UK seminar-at-sea event.

Speaking during the cruise on Wednesday (26 April), Stephen told Travel Gossip: “March was our best month ever in terms of revenue in the UK. Every month recently has been half a million or a million pounds from the UK market.

“I am fairly certain it has slowed down this month, but the bar was pretty high. The UK has been identified as a massive growth area.”

He added: “The UK is such a competitive market. There are so many agents that are active. The trade has been key to our success.”

Stephen (pictured) said the line was ‘really hitting its stride’ after the pandemic and had achieved its best revenue year across the whole company last year.

He highlighted how successful UK and Ireland Sales Director Nabil Maillard and his three-strong team had been, but ruled out recruiting any more staff right now.  

“We finally at a point where agents know us,” Stephen said. “We’re getting some recognition. The UK is in the top six or seven markets that we sell through, and the goal is to get it higher.”

He urged UK agents to surprise their cruise customers by suggesting Ponant over other cruise lines. The line has a mixed fleet of ships that operates across the world.

“Customers want you to bring something out of the bag of tricks,” he added.

Stephen believes the number of UK passengers will grow if the line can attract more groups and charter bookings in the coming months.

“We’re trying to be more aggressive with our pricing,” he said. “We struggle to get groups in the UK.” 

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