CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., the nation’s largest cruise retail network as part of World Travel Holdings, today released the results of the companies’ joint Quarterly Trend Survey. The survey – the second installment in a new ongoing series – polled more than 1,000 Franchise Owners and Agents nationwide. Findings include the top cruise destinations, booking patterns, cruise pricing trends, opinions on service fees and more.
Alaska Making Strides Heading Into Summer Season
CruiseOne Franchise Owners and Cruises Inc. Independent Agents were asked to list their three top-selling cruise destinations in Q2 2009.
· 64.4% indicated the Caribbean as their most popular selling destination
· Alaska came in second at 34.4%, up dramatically from less than 15% in Q1
· Third place was split between Europe, Mexico, Hawaii and the Mediterranean
Who is Cruising the Most…and Why?
The Q2 2009 Trend Survey polled Franchise Owners and Agents on their most requested categories of cruises.
· 68.7% ranked Family/Multi-Generational Travel as the #1 most requested category of cruising, up from 39% in Q1
· Romance/Couples held the second spot with 29.8%, topping Luxury, River and Groups
Is Business Picking Up for Agents?
In order to understand how business is trending for CruiseOne Franchise Owners and Cruises Inc. Agents, they were asked to compare Q2 bookings to bookings in the same period last year.
· Showing continued interest in cruising, more than 43% indicated bookings either “increased significantly” or “increased slightly”
· 19% indicated bookings “decreased significantly”
· The remaining 62% indicated that bookings either “decreased slightly” or “stayed the same”
When asked to compare cruise prices from Q2 2009 to Q2 2008, one possible reason for the increased bookings emerged.
· 64.1% indicated prices “decreased”
· 10.7% indicated prices “increased”
· The remaining indicated that prices remained flat.
Agents signaled that pricing relief may be on the horizon when asked to compare Q2 prices to Q1 2009.
· 39.7% indicated prices “decreased”
· 12.2% indicated prices “increased”
· The remaining 48.1% indicated prices remained steady without increasing, but without further decreases
How Do Bookings Differ from Luxury to Mass Market?
To further examine cruise booking trends, agents were asked to evaluate differences in pricing within the “Luxury,” “Premium” and “Mass Market” segments.
When asked to compare “Luxury” bookings from Q2 2009 to Q2 2008:
· 72.5% did not notice a change, indicating bookings “stayed the same”
· 9.2% saw more bookings than the same time period last year
· 18.3% saw fewer bookings than in Q2 2008
When asked to make the same comparison within “Premium” cruise bookings:
· 59.5% did not notice a change
· 16% saw more bookings than the same time period last year
· 24.4% saw fewer bookings than in Q2 2008
When asked to compare bookings within “Mass Market,” agents indicated more of a shift indicating an attraction by consumers to today’s aggressive “Mass Market” pricing.
· 76.6% saw more “Mass Market” bookings than in the previous year, or indicated that bookings remained flat
· 28.2% saw less bookings than in Q2 2008
Service Fees – An Effective Way to Increase Revenue or A Deal Breaker for Agents?
One final question looked at the buzz-worthy topic of service fees. Agents were asked “Have you always had a service fee? Have you added one this year? If not, are you considering adding one before the end of 2009?” Reviews were mixed, but showed a growing interest in this strategy.
· 27.5% indicated they have always had a service fee
· 43% indicated that they have either added a service fee this year or are considering adding one by the end of the year
· 29.5% indicated that they do not have a service fee and will not considering adding one
“These findings indicate that while the first half of 2009 brought its challenges, things are certainly looking up,” said Dwain Wall, Senior Vice President and General Manager of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. “We are confident that with pricing on the rebound and strong interest in cruising expressed by consumers, sales opportunities and revenue will continue increasing for our agents as we approach 2010.”