CruiseDelegates and panellists indicated continued potential for Indonesia, while highlighting the need for tighter collaborations between cruise lines, agents and tourism boards.

Cruise Market Robust, MICE Scene Rosy For Indonesia

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Singapore Tourism Board’s Raymond Lim (4th from left), together with key representatives from Cruise Lines International Association, ASTINDO, Royal Caribbean International, Genting Cruise Lines, and the Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia (5th from left).
Michael Goh of Genting Cruise Lines revealed how profit for cruises had jumped by 2,000% in terms of pax count since 2017 – “you can really see how big Indonesia is as a source market,” he opined.

CruiseWorld Indonesia cruised into its second edition this year with record attendee numbers, the nearly-200 crowd turnout exceeding 2018’s numbers by close to 50%.

This surging interest runs parallel to figures from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which point to Asian cruisers hitting a record high of 4.2 million in 2018, and how “Indonesia [is] within the top five source markets cruising to Singapore,” said Raymond Lim, STB area director of Indonesia.

For agents Steven Ciputra of Bayu Buana Travel, Handi Utama of Happy Vacation Tour & Travel, and Lianna Wijaya of Cruise Centre, this would be their second time attending CruiseWorld Indonesia. Satisfied with 2018’s event, the three friends returned for wider networking opportunities, promotions available, and most importantly, to gather products know-how from the cruise lines.

“We started selling cruises in 2016 but it wasn’t really moving, because our staff didn’t really understand the product,” explained Ciputra.

Utama agreed that “cruises should be experienced in order for [us] to properly explain to clients.”

Cruising above challenges
Industry experts, as well as top management from Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International raised challenges at two panel sessions moderated by Travel Weekly Asia’s editor, Lee Xin Hui. The topics were: The Outlook on Indonesia’s Cruise Tourism, and Understanding the Indonesian Cruise Traveller: What sells and what’s new?

Speaking on behalf of local travel agents about tapping MICE opportunities was Bernard Akili of Smailing Tour Group, the chief marketing officer sharing that they needed “guidance and advice from cruise lines… since we might not have the information to quickly create proposals when customers ask for things like team building and sustainability”.

Johnny Judianto of Best Tour and Cruise Centre supported with an example of how after CruiseWorld Asia 2018, ASTINDO brought Indonesian agents on ship inspections so they’d have the confidence of relaying information to customers, also suggesting that “cruise lines can consider more of [such activities] to second- and even third-tier cities”.

Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International gamely received feedback, while individually also presenting their brand’s latest projects, identifying pockets for market growth, and in particular, calling for Indonesian agents to begin pushing cruise itineraries as one of travellers’ options.

Michael Goh of Genting Cruise Lines revealed how profit for cruises had jumped by 2,000% in terms of pax count since 2017 – “you can really see how big Indonesia is as a source market,” he opined.

However, the senior vice president of international sales also felt that business partners weren’t sufficiently seizing the opportunity to push for cruise at the moment.

Josh Wen, head of sales Asia Pacific at Royal Caribbean International pointed out Indonesia’s “huge population of 270 million and more”, but how only very few owned passports. “As the country becomes more affluent and more wish to travel, we’ve to start expanding into the distribution network to gain a foothold [in those markets], and provide training to build cruise awareness.”

Instagrammable moments and MICE opportunities 
Goh shared that 45% of Genting’s business from Indonesia come from MICE groups, and how “organisers are relaxed because logistically it’s a one-stop service. We need to [push] this knowledge out”.

Wen agreed, explaining that “the key is to have a holistic package [of the destination stay] and shore excursion, where Singapore [for example] in addition has a seamless fly-cruise programme. Things are much easier than before to attract MICE groups”.

Industry expert CLIA also shared updates and cruise-selling tips. Topics included average local cruising length, traveller demographics, and terms such as switch-selling – convincing first-timers to switch from land to cruise.

On that topic, Judianto shared that it’s relatively easy since “Indonesians who’ve travelled know the prices, especially when you compare cruise versus land,” adding that “people think it’s boring to be confined at sea, that it’s more expensive…it’s the job of travel agents to inform their customers”.

Echoing Wen’s sentiments that Indonesia’s strong community-based culture will see word-of-mouth creating cruise awareness, Paulus Sofyan Gazali of Tara Tour also touched on the power of social media – such as how younger people research online, before “asking their families to sponsor!”

Pauline Suharno, secretary general ASTINDO added that “younger people like experiences-based tours,” such as how “new features on ships like rollercoasters are Instagrammable spots,” referring to Genting’s global class ships sailing in 2021.

STB’s Lim also proposed for cruise products to go online, making it more accessible for the masses and ultimately, helping to negate the “myth that cruising is for the rich”.

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