‘It’s been an unexpected bonus for us,’ she said. ‘In fact, the rise in groups business has made us look again at how we treat that whole area of our operation. We have renewed our focus on groups and streamlined the entire booking process for agents to make things as simple as possible.’
Stafford went on to say that ‘Groups can be a seriously good earner for agents because very often the number of clients snowballs quickly. We’ve found this year that there is huge interest in the weddings market, and also people celebrating milestone birthdays with family.’
Why group bookings have become more popular
Pent-up demand across the Scenic Luxury Cruises and Emerald Cruises brands are thought to be an outcome of pandemic lockdowns, with larger groups made up of family or friends choosing now to splash out on bucket list cruises.
Recent successes include an Emerald Cruises sailing on the Douro, plus Lisbon extension, for a group of more than 25 sold by Appleby Travel in Cumbria, and an Emerald Cruises Rhine cruise in October sold by Crumlin Travel in Northern Ireland.
Working with agents on group bookings
Scenic Group has implemented a nine-step groups process that starts when agents contact their regional sales manager. After that, the operator’s team checks availability for dedicated pricing and group benefits. These include discounts, on-board credit and extras such as private transfers and drinks packages depending on the sailing.
Added Stafford, ‘…from an agent point of view, the best thing about selling groups is that we can take over much of the work.’
Scenic offers dedicated marketing materials to promote group bookings, along with the option of bespoke groups training.