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River cruise must improve online capabilities

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Some websites lack capacity for online bookings
River cruising may be undergoing a revolution, but some companies stand accused of failing to keep up on the technological side, with websites that belong more to the Dark Ages.
That was the consensus from a number of agents at a recent Clia River Cruise Convention, which tried to address why the river cruise sector is failing to deliver on online bookings.
Online capability still lags behind, said James Hill of GoRiverCruise, with some websites lacking capacity for online booking – a function that is taken for granted in other sectors of the travel industry.
“River cruise companies have got the hardware, but now there’s catching up to do and they have to refocus on the soft stuff if they want to fill their ships,” he said.
There is little continuity in this market, he added, with big variations between the best websites and those that are virtually “impregnable” when it comes to retrieving information, even basic facts such as sailing dates.
He attributed the rise of Riviera Travel to the clarity and ease of agent bookings via its website.
Hill’s comments came as new research produced for Clia revealed that advertising was playing an increasingly key role in river and ocean cruising, with 67% of customers recalling advertising, compared with the general travel figure of 35%.
The research also highlighted that city breaks remained a key market from where river cruise could steal share, as data revealed that 42% of travellers considering a river cruise end up booking a city break instead.
TTG Digital

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