Virgin Atlantic targets growth from cruise and touring specialists

Virgin Atlantic is targeting significant growth from agents and operators specialising in cruise, touring and adventure and experiential travel.

Leisure sales director Nicola Goldsmith said the airline was looking to become known as the most cruise-friendly transatlantic carrier, adding: “We believe there is a gap we can fill.

“With cruise, we know customers expect an end-to-end experience, a seamless customer journey, with a flight that consistent in quality with the fantastic ships they are going to be getting on.

“We know they aren’t getting that all the time at the moment. But we know our product is amazing – the average age of our fleet is just seven years and we fly to many of the destinations where people embark on cruises.”

Goldsmith cited Virgin’s double-daily services to Miami and Los Angeles and double-daily and daily flights from Heathrow and Manchester respectively to Barbados, where more than 20 ships homeport, as options to combine flights and sailings.

She also flagged opportunities to use Virgin Atlantic flights to Dubai to connect with ships sailing from or repositioning through the Arabian Gulf.

Virgin has already hired former Cruise 1st agent Melanie Gittins to grow its cruise business, and Goldsmith revealed she is looking to recruit a touring and adventure specialist to repeat the strategy and grow the carrier’s business within that sector.

“Cruise is a niche sector so we purposely employed Mel to help us grow,” she said. “She has been doing a lot of work with special fares for cruise passengers and she wants to speak to even more cruise specialist agents and operators.”

Virgin Atlantic will be a headline sponsor of the Clia Conference in Southampton in May and the Atas Conference in October as it looks to further cement its position within the sectors.

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