Expedition Cruise Network to plan ship visits and fam trips

Expedition Cruise Network to plan ship visits and fam trips

New trade body highlights ‘lucrative’ area of market

A new trade body promoting expedition cruising aims to organise ship visits and fam trips for trade professionals to help them experience what the sector has to offer.

The Expedition Cruise Network (ECN) has also launched webinars for trade professionals to help them understand the range of vessels and itineraries on offer.

About 100 agents registered for the first webinar, which took place in May (2023), and six more are scheduled for the rest of the year.

Launched in April, the organisation now has 330 trade professionals signed up to the trade membership portal and 16 cruise operator members.

ECN chairman Martin Johnson said: “Travel agency sales are the most important avenue for expedition cruise lines. One ECN member has 80% of sales coming from agents. Cruise operators really want to work with the trade to develop their sales.”

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Johnson said matching the right type of client to the right cruise line and ship is key, so knowledge and training are important.

Commenting on ship visits and fam trips, he said: “There will definitely be opportunities to experience the product.” Though he pointed out that fam trips can sometimes be tricky as expedition voyages can be longer than in mainstream cruising, and that ship visits are a useful alternative for agents to get on board.

Johnson hopes to reach 500 trade members soon then eventually 1,000. About half of the trade professionals – including agents and tour operator staff – who have joined are new to the sector.

“Hopefully the travel trade can see it is very lucrative area of the market,” he added, highlighting that the starting prices of expedition cruises are about US$6,250 per person, while the average booking value is more than US$12,500.

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