Jennifer Morris, news editor

Be creative and don’t take rejection personally. That was the advice of GoCruise agent Martin Hay, speaking to TTG ahead of his presentation at Abta’s New Markets in Cruise conference on 2 October. Hay (inset) will host a session at the event in London – for which TTG Media is media partner – entitled “Attracting new audiences to cruise – a perspective on the groups market”. He will explore what the

groups market is and why it is potentially rewarding; how can agents break into the groups market; and working with the right cruise providers. “I didn’t start out with some grand plan 10 years ago to target the groups market, rather it stumbled across me, I said yes… and the rest is history,” Hay said.

GoCruise, part of Fred Olsen Travel, has built up one of the UK’s largest specialist cruise agencies, with a network of more than 60 franchisees across the UK.

Hay specialises in group travel within the cruise sector and is a director of Agto (the Association of Group Travel Organisers). “Groups certainly can be rewarding –

on occasion very rewarding – but they invariably entail a great deal of hard work, and what’s more despite all that hard work, they don’t always come off. “My key advice to agents would be don’t think groups are an easy and fast route to riches, but commit, be creative, handle rejection well, persevere and rewards will follow in the medium to

long term.” Hay also offered some advice

for lines dealing with the segment,

suggesting they “commit” to groups. “My key advice to ocean and river cruise operators is don’t play at it. Carefully assess the potential costs and benefits and if you decide to commit to it, do so whole-heartedly. “Devise an attractive groups policy and seek out travel agent partners who have a proven track record in the groups market, who have the knowledge, expertise, time and commitment necessary to make a commercial success of it in the medium to long term.”


Abta’s cruise conference, which will be moderated by TTG editor Sophie Griffiths, has been designed to bring travel professionals together to explore ways to attract new cruisers and reach new markets.

The event focuses on how to sell and market the benefits of river and ocean cruise holidays.

Delegates will get the latest product trends; understand how to engage new and growing markets; explore the potential of first-time cruisers; and understand how developments in the onboard experience can help to attract holidaymakers to cruise.

Abta adds attendees will learn how to use new marketing and sales tools and how to promote and sell cruise on social networks, as well as boost revenue by identifying new trade partners who don’t currently sell much cruise.

For more information and to book a place, visit abtaevents

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: A panel hosted by TTG Media CEO Daniel Pearce on new and emerging destinations for 2020 and 2021 with Riviera Travel’s Tom Morgan; Tony Roberts of Princess Cruises; and Sally Cope from Tourism Australia.

LUXURY TWIST: Later in the day, TTG Luxury editor April Hutchinson will lead a session entitled “Cruise innovations and product trends”, whose speakers will include Rachel Healey of Uniworld; Silversea’s Peter Shanks; and Lucia Rowe of A-Rosa.


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