Security, routings, price and brand are the key sales factors for cruises on the German market at present, while German cruise lines remain top for travel agents, according to fvw's exclusive 'Cruise Market Germany' study.
The third annual study questioned 185 travel agents in Germany, who are representative of the country’s population structure, on demand trends for cruise holidays as well as their own views on the strengths and weaknesses of 23 different cruise line brands. For the first time, the study has been divided into four different segments: Volume (mass market), Premium, Luxury and Expedition.
Cruises remain a vital growth business for German travel agents, and 77% of them aim to expand cruise sales next year, the survey found. A high 85% predicted that demand for ocean cruises will continue to grow while 44% also expect rising demand for river cruises compared to just 24% last year. In 2015, some 1.8 million Germans went on a cruise holiday, according to industry association CLIA, and this figure is expected to rise to two million this year.
The top factors for a customer decision about a cruise holiday are security (with 78% of travel agents describing it as “essential” or “very important”), routing (75%) and price (76%). A high 32% of agents described routing as an essential factor, 19 percentage points more than last year, suggesting that the choice of destinations is becoming more important than on-board facilities and service. An overwhelming 84% of agents expect cruise prices to drop in future due to stronger competition.
The cruise brand was only seen as an essential purchasing factor by 17% of German travel agents, although 49% said it was very important, while the ship itself (product, service, etc.) was seen as an essential decision factor by only 14%, while 47% described it as very important. In terms of market segments, German travel agents see good potential for luxury cruises in future, with 75% predicting growth for this business line, compared to only 55% last year.
In the rankings of individual cruise lines, German travel agents again named TUI Cruises and Aida Cruises as top in terms of meeting sales and product criteria as well as being best-known to customers.
TUI Cruises was seen as offering the best value for money, followed by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). Hapag-Lloyd Cruises scored best for routing and quality reliability, while Aida has the best entertainment as well as sport and fitness programme, according to agents.
International cruise lines such as MSC, NCL, Cunard and Royal Caribbean remained behind the three German brands but improved their scores, while Silversea and Seabourn dropped down the rankings.