UK Cruise Holiday Agents Could Get Disability Advice Service
17/10/2008 | 0 comments
A network of independent travel agents to drive cruise holiday sales and specialist service to disabled travellers could soon be a reality. 'Leading Cruise Agents' is to discuss the possibility following a debate by cruise lines on how to tap into a market of 2.5 million registered disabled travellers in the UK.
The disabled market has £50 billion in revenue to spend and many disabled travellers feel they are not receiving the service they need from travel agents and cruiselines.
LCA chairwoman Clare Dudley said: "It's a fantastic idea to develop further. We need to ensure agents know what they are talking about when selling cruises to disabled clients."
It could mean agents who want to specialise would be given specific information on cruise ship facilities, and that extra information is provided for disabled customers.
GoCruise consultant Tony Hammond, who would like to sell more cruises to disabled customers, said: "The ideal situation would be for us to see ship facilities, get detailed information from cruiselines and have a contact we can ring directly on any issues on this."
Peter Deilmann River and Ocean Cruises managing director Stuart Perl put forward the idea to the LCA following the recent round-table debate.
At the debate, Princess Cruises head of marketing Pieter van der Schee said: "Agents want to differentiate themselves - a network is an excellent way of doing this."
Norwegian Cruise Line director of sales Nick Wilkinson said the move would put the onus on cruiselines to ensure agents knew about their disabled facilities onboard ships.
Specialist operator Accessible Travel also stressed it was time for agents to tap into this loyal customer base. Managing director Andy Wright, an ENAT Member, said: "Agents do not know about it and clients don't have a clue until they get on to the ships."
Travel Weekly Cruise Club member Tracy McFall, one of five Accessible Travel franchisees, raised the issue of disabled travellers in May after she lost more than £15,000 as wheelchair-bound customers complained about arrangements made to accommodate them.