croisi europe insight

CroisiEurope's UK sales director on the rise of river cruising

John Fair, UK sales director at CroisiEurope, talks about the growth in the river-cruise market and highlights the value that travel agents can provide clients when booking cruise holidays.

I truly believe positivity and “being positive” will become key drivers in travel regaining both its mojo and its importance to many British people. Key to the heart of that positivity will be travel agents and the tremendous service and expertise they provide for all travellers, but especially for ocean and river cruisers, as cruising once again looks to the future. 

As you might expect with my position as UK sales director for Europe’s biggest river cruise operator, my focus here will be river cruises, but it goes without saying that selling cruises of any kind offers travel agents not only excellent commission but also the vital ability to earn customer loyalty and repeat business. Once many people take a cruise, they will come back enriched and keen to sample other itineraries, other rivers, other cultures and ship types.

Turning my attention to specifically rivers, it’s worth reminding travel agents that pre-pandemic, the river cruise market was the fastest growing sector in travel, with double digit percentage growth year-on-year, with just about all of the major operators investing in new ships, new greener technologies and opening up new rivers for your customers to explore. I’m pleased that CroisiEurope has always been at the forefront of those developments with new ships in Africa on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, the first sailings on the Vltava River in Bohemia and the use of paddlewheel ships in Europe on the Loire and the Elbe. 

For travel agents, river cruising is not just about traditional seven-night itineraries on the likes of the Rhine, Rhone and Danube, although they remain a vital part of the river cruise story, but so much more. Many river cruisers now want to combine a sailing on their chosen river with a pre- or post-cruise stay in-country — many of the leading lines now offer these as pre bookable packages rather than travel agents having to package it themselves or go to a third-party supplier for that element. 

River cruise operators have also widened the choice of itinerary types extensively with a huge focus now on themed cruises such as classical music, art, walking, hiking, cycling and expert-led lectures on history and culture. All of this choice opens up river cruising to a much wider demographic for agents to sell to. 

We should also not forget that river cruising is also now a long-haul option which is ideal for not only a stand-alone cruise but also a more complex, bucket-list type holiday that recent industry research leads us to believe will grow. Travel agents can now sell further afield rivers with the confidence that the same high standards of service, accommodation, offerings as well as in depth excursion programmes that are found in Europe will be delivered without fail. I know I speak for all the major river cruise operators that we treasure our relationships with our agent partners. We are all looking to invest in training programmes, FAM trips, faceto-face and virtual workshops and rewarding incentive schemes. 

For you, as agents, will sell river cruising with confidence knowing that not only will your customers have a fantastic break but that in most cases, the cost is fully inclusive, fully commissionable and great value.


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