Comment: Erin Johnson, Silversea Cruises

Erin Johnson is Silversea Cruises’ marketing director for the UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa. She joined the line in March 2017 from Carnival Cruise Line.

The concept of luxury is constantly changing. In a world where everything is increasingly accessible, the meaning of ‘luxury’ has evolved, and will continue to do so. Opulence has been replaced by authentic, memorable experiences, and exclusivity now resides in things that are simple and true.

We’ve moved beyond thinking a luxury holiday means over-the-top surroundings (think gold taps shaped like swans). Instead, we find more happiness in spending money on moments that really mean something. For some, that might be discovering destinations and learning about new cultures; for others, it may simply be spending time with their family.

This shift towards experience‑led travel is clear not only among baby boomers but also Generation X. Affluent travellers in this latter age group are increasingly mindful of impactful and immersive travel – they want authenticity by the bucketload and experiences they can share.

Knowing that luxury is different for different people means marketing en masse can be ineffective. At Silversea, we know our guests crave journeys that enrich, and that they tend to be aged between 50 and 70, affluent and time-rich, and we target them accordingly. Use insight from past bookings to ensure you target clients in the right way.

Baby boomers are a great target market, for example, as they are looking for new experiences and value personal enrichment over material ownership. However, be aware that this luxury customer will be well-travelled and knowledgeable, so it is crucial to have a good understanding of the sector you’re selling. In the case of cruise, that means ensuring you get the right guest on the right ship. At Silversea, we know the baby‑boomer generation is key, and that’s why we deliver authentic, immersive experiences in more than 900 destinations – from pole to pole.

The ultra-luxury cruise sector provides an opportunity for agents to show the true value of their knowledge. Luxury clients usually prefer a more‑personalised service and will be keen to understand how they gain a deeper cultural experience. Get to know their likes and dislikes, their passions and their travel experience, and you’ll build a stronger relationship with your client and be able to market to them appropriately.