Whilst high pricing is often cited as the reason why passengers are failing to buy cruise line tours, ‘it could be more of a case of getting the message across better and earlier about the value of buying a shore excursion from the line,' Howie offered.
She urged tour providers to bring more novel ideas to their programmes and ‘fight to get innovations heard’ and said providers need to develop cruise tours that cannot be brought elsewhere.
‘Users will be the ones who determine the product going forward,’ commented Christos Makrialeas, md of Inchcape Shipping Services, Greece. He called tour pricing ‘the mother of all battles’ but urged lines to implement ‘pricing at a level that suppliers will be able to survive to deliver the product.'
Elisabetta de Nardo, director, port operations at Silversea Cruises and a late replacement for Darius Mehta, vp air and land programmes, said the brand is noting ‘increasing awareness in “good citizen,” sustainable and fund-raising tours.’
Andreas Stylianopolous, president and ceo, Navigator Travel & Tourist Services, called it a new era for shore excursions, with participation on cruise line tours dropping from 60% in the 1980s and '90s to the average 35% to 40% today.
He urged tourism bodies to create more apps and awareness on the Internet of the offering for cruise passengers in destinations and said ‘more work needs to be done in turning price handicap into a higher value perception.’ It is important to the cruise line and the provider that passengers who buy tours from the cruise line tick the right box afterwards, he remarked.
Addressing if cruise lines are doing enough to promote destinations, Gianluca Suprani, head of global port development and shore activities at MSC Cruises, said an emphatic yes.
He backed up his argument pointing to the company printing two million brochures in 20 languages, plus tour information on web pages, via social media, as well as to travel agents and on-board information provided in print, digitally and via in-cabin TV, as a comprehensive exercise in promoting destinations to passengers.
Suprani confirmed ‘good results’ in pre-booked excursion sales this year by paying commission to travel agents on advance bookings.