Being proactive pays off
He advised: “Give us clear, concise information. Don’t be afraid to approach us,” whilst adding that a bond between the tour operator and the port is advantageous.
Meanwhile Marcus Puttich, head of port & ground operations TUI Cruises, commented: “Ports need to know who they are targeting, do their homework of who is coming.”
Both Sam Kelly, marine operations manager Saga Cruises, and Roxanne Onufriyenko, manager marine & port operations Cruise & Maritime Voyages, said they were always looking for new ports. The latter explaining: “The reason we have new ports is because they come to us and tell us what they have.”
Lotfi Trabelsi, manager port operations & guest ports services Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, commented: “Different brands have different needs. We do take guests to new ports and then we check the satisfaction. If it is good we increase volumes year on year. The west coast, we are looking for different destinations as guests are asking. We are watching closely some projects, for example, Bordeaux’s new terminal coming in which will take our ships. We are also talking to Portuguese ports.”
Addressing the age-old problem of congestion, Russell Daya, executive director marine & port operations Disney Cruise Line, said: “The challenge with planning itineraries is the congestion in the ports. Quite often we will bypass a port because it is too busy.”
Once a call is booked then it’s all about shore excursions and again being proactive pays off.
Steven Young, vp port & shore operations P&O Cruises and Cunard, pointed out that these are a very important part of revenue, accounting for about 20% of the revenue of the company. However he added that only about 50% of passengers maximum take a shore excursion so providing for independent visitors is also very important. “We have to face up to the fact that passengers these days can go online so we have to make sure we are offering something of value.”
Onufriyenko added: “The majority of our passengers are very, very active. Lots want to go on tours but also to go independently. A quay close to the city or a free shuttle is important.”
All agreed that providing crew with the opportunity of visiting the destination by putting on free shuttles, providing discounts etc is one of the best ways of marketing a destination. “The crew are great ambassadors,” said Lotfi Trabelsi, manager port operations & guest ports services Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Young added: “A well-informed crew member will see your port better than we ever will but remember they don’t have much time [to visit].”
On the luxury and small vessel side, Sander Groothuis, marine operations director The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, highlighted a tour in Vigo based around Jules Verne: “Look at what the personality is and make the most of it,” he advised ports.
Meanwhile Emilio Freeman, vp & revenue management Seadream Yacht Club, was inspired by chocolatier Dominique Persoone who he likened to Willie Wonka creating all kinds of exciting things. “That is what we want from the ports”.
Last but by no means least. Van der Raadt highlighted the power of a region marketing itself: “The east coast Canada used to be a difficult sell but because they market it so much, it is now easier.”