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ADVISORY BOARD MEETING


LUXURY SECTOR


REFRAINS FROM CUTTING PRICES


Aspire advisory board members discuss trends in the market


Affluent cruisers are booking earlier to secure the best deals as cruise line bosses step up efforts to maintain strong yields. Senior figures from Seabourn, Oceania Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and AmaWaterways agreed that the booking curve was moving “earlier and earlier in the luxury cruise sector”. Priti Mehta, sales director at Oceania,


said that despite the market being a “little up and down” in recent months, the industry was “holding its nerve more” and not dropping prices during difficult trading periods. “There are some partners that are still stuck in the deal-driven era, but we’re trying to move out of that,” she said. “In cruise, we panic if we’re not selling


and we drop our pricing – and then later wish we hadn’t. As a whole, luxury lines are holding their nerve more and the deals that we do offer are more about added-value rather than [dropping] price.” As a result, average selling prices are up and bookings are coming in earlier, she


The deals that we do offer are more about added-value than price”


said, adding: “The UK used to be quite late booking for us, but that’s moving forward.” Mehta said Oceania was no longer


focused on “getting bums on seats and 100% occupancy” but instead wanted “the right occupancy”, fuelling brand loyalty. Seabourn’s UK boss, Lynn Narraway, said the fact the brand was on sale through to 2019 reflected how early luxury cruisers wanted to book. John Sullivan, head of commercial at


The Advantage Travel Partnership, said the industry as a whole had seen strong


sales in recent months. “Long-haul is doing well and luxury is doing well – we’ve seen strong sales across just about everything,” he said. “Against the backdrop of political news


and everything else that’s going on in the world, I think a lot of people would have expected completely the opposite. We have to stay a bit measured, but you have to make hay while the sun shines.” Sullivan said US bookings had struggled a little, a view echoed by Abercrombie & Kent sales manager Rachel Healey.


TOURISM NZ JOINS BOARD


Aspire is delighted to welcome 100% PURE New Zealand on to the Aspire Luxury Travel Club Advisory Board. Kate Fenton, the tourism board’s premium trade manager for Europe, has joined and is keen to boost Aspire agents’ knowledge of New Zealand’s luxury offering. For more information about luxury travel in New Zealand, visit newzealand.com/luxury.


76 — aspire september 2017


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