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industry six years ago was just how united the whole industry is” KATHRYN BEADLE

“The one thing that struck me most when I joined the cruise

she has seen since joining Hurtigruten has been the brand’s deepening penetration of the trade, meaning greater understanding of it and better sales. Beadles says: “Our experience is

so different; it is not a traditional cruise ship. If somebody goes on one of our ships and they’re told there’s a couple of shows a night and 12 restaurants they are going to be very badly disappointed.”

Commission control But she admits circumstances beyond her control again played a role in Hurtigruten’s increased standing, particularly when P&O Cruises chose to cut commission to 5% in 2012. “Agents moved away from offering

some of the cruise lines and looked at some of the niche cruise lines which pay significantly more commission and there was a benefit for us in doing that,” she says. “Some of the bigger cruise specialist agents who had previously focused their efforts on volume instead started to sell us as they saw there was a market for something that’s different. “They might not sell enormous

Beadle predicts there will be less discounting this year

that they can then market in their own communities.” She adds the most recent example

of this was in January when the BBC’s Stargazing Live programme, which ties in with Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights itineraries, drove record bookings although she warns agents need to be prepared. Beadle explains: “We saw this enormous surge in interest and they [agents] should try and capitalise on that, but it doesn’t last long. They had a five-day period.” And while this more immediate

response has been to Hurtigruten’s benefit, she adds it also brings challenges too. “Everything is very immediate

now. Customer feedback is immediate and customers expect

“My problem was being ignorant about ships, and going to agencies where people talk knowledgeably about their history. I had to learn a different language.” Kathryn Beadle

that in return,” she says. “If they give you immediate feedback they expect you to respond immediately.” Beadle adds another key change

volumes but the rewards they can earn are quite significant as we’re not cheap.” But no matter where she goes in

the travel industry Beadle admits some things don’t change, as discounting reared its head for 2013 summer sales. She says: “In Norway in the fjords

last summer there was overcapacity so we saw some brutal discounting in 2013. “Some of the discounting was happening quite a long way out. It wasn’t just lates, it was five or six months out. For the consumer there were some fantastic offers to be had.” But again she is hoping this will

change, as she believes one of the travel industry’s best qualities is its ability to learn from its own mistakes. “There is less capacity to that

region in 2014 so hopefully that will mean the prices are much more realistic,” Beadle says.

CV Kathryn Beadle

1976-1994 Kathryn Beadle started her career in travel as a trainee travel consultant with Hogg Robinson Leisure. She spent 18 years with the company rising through the ranks to become their youngest and only female regional sales manager before being appointed sales director. She later moved across to head up marketing and commercial.

1995-2005 After leaving Hogg Robinson, Beadle joined Virgin Holidays in 1995 as sales and marketing director. A keen advocate of “green issues”, she introduced an environmental policy and responsible tourism initiative that encompassed all of the company. Beadle was given an award by the City of New York in 2003 for her support of the city through promotional activity after the events of 9/11.

2005-2008 Sales and marketing director at Argo Holidays and Jetlife.

2008-PRESENT Beadle joined Hurtigruten in 2008 as head of commercial, and has since been promoted to managing director for the UK, also with responsibility for the US, Australia, Middle East and Asia. She introduced a winter programme in 2009 focusing on the Northern Lights. Due to the popularity of the programme it has since expanded to include charter flights, which support a short break and 11-night voyage programme.

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