fvw Cruise Study 2018

German travel agents downgrade cruise operators

Cruise sales are steaming ahead but travel agents are getting more critical.
Cruise sales are steaming ahead but travel agents are getting more critical.

All major ocean cruise operators have been given worse ratings this year by German travel agents who underlined the importance of routings, destinations and excursions in this year’s exclusive fvw Cruise Study.

Overall, German travel agents remain very confident about the importance and potential of cruise holidays. On average, they now generate 23% of their revenues from cruise holiday sales. An overwhelming 90% of surveyed agents believe that the market segment will continue to grow in future.

But travel agents have also become more critical about cruise operators and gave lower scores than last year to all 17 ocean cruise lines in the table below (on a scale of 1 to 6). The exclusive fvw study surveyed 200 representative travel agents for their views on 23 ocean cruise and six river cruise companies in terms of 15 different product and sales criteria.

The 2018 cruise operator ranking and scores
The 2018 cruise operator ranking and scores

German firms TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Aida Cruises remained the top three operators in the fvw ranking but with lower scores than last year. The German cruise firms ranked highly in many of the product and sales categories. However, only 62% of travel agents said that Aida Cruises has ‘a clear brand profile’ compared to 79% last year. The German market leader’s fleet expansion with larger ships for a wider range of customers is the main reason for this. In contrast, TUI Cruises has a clear profile for a high 80% of agents.

In general, traditional product factors were rated higher by German travel agents this year.

For example, 84% described the ship’s routing as a very important or essential sales factor compared to 75% last year, while the choice of destinations was very important or essential for 78% this year compared to 74% last year. Land excursions are also very important, according to 64% this year compared to just 49% last year. Yet agents gave worse average scores for routings and excursions, possibly reflecting the trend towards more ships operating similar routes to the same destinations and offering virtually identical excursions.

Among other sales and product criteria, agents rated ‘reliable quality’ and gastronomy more highly this year and gave a slightly better score for commission levels. The importance of a cruise operator’s brand dropped back slightly but remained high at 78%.

Against the background of public debate over the environmental impact of cruise ships, more agents also rated ‘environment’ as important this year while 72% described ‘sustainability’ (a new category) as important or very important. Aida, Norway’s Hurtigruten and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises rated best in this category.

Further information about the fvw Cruise Study 2018, including contents, price and an order form, is available under the link below. (In German only.)

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