Uniworld offering 200-plus fam trip places this year

Uniworld’s UK boss has outlined plans to welcome more than 200 agents on board this summer as he declared British passengers were returning to European rivers.

Chris Townson, the line’s UK and Ireland managing director, confirmed VIP fam trips would be held in Venice, the French rivers and the Danube and added that agent rates of up to 60% were also available for those that wanted to sail “at their own leisure”.

Most river lines expressed hope for “a normal season” earlier this year after successive pandemic-affected summers.

And Townson said there were reasons to be positive as Uniworld’s onboard bookings had “trebled” week on week earlier this month.

He added the river operator had the “lion’s share” of the luxury market at the moment but admitted there were “pockets” of availability this season.

“We have late summer pricing which is unusual,” he said. “This year, you can get away for £2,000 on a week-long sailing.”

He added Uniworld hoped to host more than hundreds of agents this season through a combination of hosted and discounted fam trips.

Reflecting on the line’s 2022 sales performance, Townson said: “Literally from the start of January, the tap started to turn on apart from a two-week slow down around the conflict in Ukraine.

“There’s a lot of interest in Danube sailings; the pricing is sharper and Brits are back. It’s about delivering in 2022 and making sure that everything runs smoothly.”

To accommodate rising demand, Uniworld is working “very closely” with key agent partners on their bespoke marketing campaigns.

And Townson said this was “helping” agency’s conversion rates.

Last week, Uniworld added two more staff members to its Guernsey-based call centre to further assist agents who were “under the pump”.

Townson also pointed out the single supplement had been scrapped on “certain departures”, including the eight-day Dutch Delight sailing; the 12-day Rhine, Moselle and Blissful Baden-Baden; and the eight-day Enchanting Danube.

“It’s on pockets where we have availability to support that market,” he added. “Normally, we do not have enough stock.”

Solo passengers can book sailings from £1,749, Townson said.

He also added that conversations about 2023 deployment were “around the corner”.

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