Lindblad Expeditions joins Atas to capitalise on growth

Lindblad Expeditions has joined the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) to help agents take advantage of “the breakout travel trend of the decade”.

Jacinta McEvoy, the cruise line’s sales vice-president, said: “We believe that expedition cruising is the breakout travel trend of the decade, and our data and what we’re hearing from our partners in the UK market suggests holidaymakers feel the same.

“As we move to further capitalise on the growing popularity of expedition cruising around the globe, Atas will be a critical partner to help us further increase our brand awareness and consideration among travellers in the UK market.”

She added: “To say travel advisors are an integral part of our business would be an understatement.

“They know what their clients want – intimate, small-ship expedition experiences that will take them up close to the heart of destinations where big ships can’t go.

“We recognise and respect that the UK travel advisor community plays an incredibly important role in guiding the decision-making process for both the new and seasoned expedition cruise travellers that we’re trying to reach.”

She said the top-booked destinations so far this year are Alaska, Galapagos, the Arctic, Antarctica and Costa Rica.

“2023 is proving to be a record-breaking year at Lindblad Expeditions. At the start of the year, we reported our biggest booking day since 1979,” she said.

“The phones are also buzzing. On this day, we also saw inbound call volume exceeding our previous busiest day in 2022 by nearly 30%.”

She said Lars Eric Lindblad – the father of company founder Sven-Olof Lindblad – led the first non-scientific civilian expedition to Antarctica in 1966 and then again to the Galápagos Islands the following year.

“Now, more than 50 years later, we have a diverse fleet of 16 ships, sailing to more than 120 countries and territories on all seven continents across our 170 itineraries,” she said.

“Annually, we currently operate over 550 departures to the world’s most remote and wild destinations.

“It is our responsibility – and our mission – to leave these places better than we found them.

“Our unwavering commitment to collaborating with local communities, and our positive environmental impact in these regions, are paramount to our business, but also paramount to our guests, who we find share a similar passion for the planet.”

She urged travel agents to consider Lindblad Expeditions for adventurous, curious travellers who are yearning to explore the planet.

“Discerning travellers and holidaymakers are looking to unplug and engage; they want to authentically and safely explore the planet’s most remote and remarkable places, and that’s what Lindblad Expeditions does at its core,” she said.

“Our dedicated National Geographic Global Explorers programme is perfect for families in some of our most popular geographies, including Galapagos, Baja, Alaska and Antarctica.
“Expeditions are perfect for solo travellers as well. On board, solo travellers will not feel alone, as they can expect to be warmly welcomed by a community of like-minded travellers.”

McEvoy also pointed out how the cruises can be lucrative for agents, as the cruise line has a strong repeat factor and a track record of word-of-mouth referrals.

A new travel advisor appreciation programme will launch later this year and the company is developing new travel advisor travel rates and hosting special, exclusive events on board our ships to boost trade relations.

It launched a training platform earlier this year called Expedition 360 to help agents with selling the cruises.

“The trade channel is a very important channel of business for Lindblad. We’re seeing growth year over year, which is why we are increasing sales, training, and resources for our dedicated travel advisors,” she added.

“Our average price has changed over the past few years, and this is driven by the launch of our two new premium polar vessels National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution in 2021, and the recent introduction of the beautiful refurbished former-superyacht National Geographic Islander II in August 2022 in the Galápagos Islands.”

Earlier this year, Expedition 360, a full-service trade initiative, was launched to help train agents.

“Expedition cruising has never been more popular than it is today. In the last 10 years the category has grown exponentially, with many new players entering the space and larger cruise brands trying to get a slice of the pie, particularly in the polar regions,” added McEvoy.

“Now, we’re looking ahead to new and exciting locales in places like the South Pacific, Asia, and High Arctic, and building better, more enriching programmes in bubbling destinations, such as the Kimberley region in Australia, Croatia, and our Columbia and Snake Rivers expeditions on our US-flagged vessels.”

Claire Brighton, Atas account director, said: “I’m thrilled to welcome Jacinta and the Lindblad Expeditions team.

“They have a strong legacy in the expedition cruising sector and are investing a great deal in developing their trade relations with UK travel agents, so Atas is a natural fit for their ambitions.”

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