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Authentic experiences a must for shore excursions

shorex panel Hamburg
Trying to capture authenticity in the shore experience was the focus of an expert discussion moderated by Carmen Morosan, global shore excursion manager, Intercruises Shoreside & Port Services, on the final day of Seatrade Europe.

Authenticity was identified as the top demand when meeting visitor expectations and delivering immersive travel.

‘To create authenticity, our model is based on big groups and leverage of volume. But to provide authenticity we offer private experiences within this larger group,’ said Elena Vlad, director shore excursion product development & operations, Holland America Group.

Vlad stressed that safety was always the top priority when proposals for experiential excursions come in, and Beatrice Capilli, senior manager destination experiences for Silversea Cruises, added a careful investigation of new ideas – including scouting on-site – was a must.

'Sometimes it is necessary to say no,' said David Vass SVP worldwide cruise business & operations, Abercrombie & Kent destination management.

Originality is desired.

‘You need to create something that is not being done by everyone else and that it can’t be imitated, said Jean-Pierre Joubert, head of shore excursions at MSC Cruises.

Technology brings opportunities

Technology and its place in experiential shore experiences was also discussed.

‘Artificial intelligence is the future,' Vass said.

‘Being able to address any issues in real time by using software to pick up negative terms on passenger feedback forms is going to save huge amounts of time in the future and enhance the passenger experience,' he added.

Friday's panel made it clear that the shortage of guides is an increasing concern, particularly since technology is unlikely to replace them.

‘We are not aliens,' as Joubert put it, adding the personal experience guides provide cannot be easily replaced by an app. He agreed, though, that technology, including virtual reality applications, could enrich excursion experiences.