Uniworld chief hails inaugural Ultra-Luxury Cruise Showcase

Agents who attended the inaugural Ultra-Luxury Cruise Showcase will now have the knowledge to “make the right choices for their customers”, according to Uniworld’s UK boss.

The first event of its kind took place on board the line’s Joie de Vivre ship in Paris between March 24 and March 26.

Nine luxury cruise operators – Uniworld, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Ponant, Explora Journeys, Luxury Gold, Aqua Expeditions, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Seabourn – showcased their products to about 100 agents on the two-night sailing along the Seine.

Chris Townson, UK managing director of Uniworld, hailed the inaugural networking event, which was organised in partnership with Clia.

“The feedback from agents and suppliers has been fantastic,” he said. “We made sure we had the right agents and the right partners on board to create an immersive experience that will enable the trade to make the right choices for their customers.

“Within two days they’ve not only experienced river cruising and a first-hand taste of what Uniworld is all about, but immersed themselves in our luxury cruise partners.”

Townson revealed discussions have already begun about a second showcase, an event he says has “created a space” that did not previously exist. He is confident it will lead to increased sales for Uniworld and the ocean cruise lines in attendance.

“In the ultra-luxury sector there wasn’t a space for us to showcase our products to a targeted group of agents and partners,” he added. “What we’ve done is create that space.

“When we do this sort of thing we know we get the desired results; we did something similar with a specific partner in November and the returns have been astronomical.”

Townson said that while there is still some way to go in changing people’s “stuffy” perceptions of river cruising, events such as this will help speed up the process.

“If you rewind 25 years, cruise was all black tie and old people – then the whole industry changed,” he said.

“I think river [cruising] is slightly behind the ocean cruising curve, and that’s why we have to do as many of these events as possible so the trade really understands what it is we’re offering.”

Craig Forsyth of Clia said the association was “delighted” to be involved in the organisation and execution of the event.

“The showcase was a great opportunity for travel agents already selling ultra-luxury products and those wanting to gain a foothold in this sector to meet with a cross-sector range of ultra-luxury suppliers and get all the latest brand news and product updates,” he said.

“Agents took full advantage of the brand presentations and enjoyed the chance to speak on a one-to-one basis with the suppliers throughout the the event, while enjoying the luxury surroundings and service on board the beautiful Joie de Vivre.”

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