CruiseCruising offers plenty of opportunity for boosting travel agents’ revenue, and it’s there for the taking, for those who are ready.

CruiseWorld Indonesia 2018: “The time is now” to tap Indonesia’s huge potential

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Panellists at CruiseWorld Indonesia addressed the massive opportunity in Indonesia as a source market for cruising. (From left) Lee Xin Hui, Travel Weekly Asia; Raymond Lim, Singapore Tourism Board; Royanto Handaya, PT Panorama JTB Tours Indonesia; Simei Ng, Royal Caribbean Cruises (Asia); Michael Goh, Genting Cruise Lines; Pauline Suharno, ASTINDO and PT Elok Tour; and Irene Chua, Northstar Travel Group.
Panellists at CruiseWorld Indonesia addressed the massive opportunity in Indonesia as a source market for cruising. (From left) Lee Xin Hui, Travel Weekly Asia; Raymond Lim, Singapore Tourism Board; Royanto Handaya, PT Panorama JTB Tours Indonesia; Simei Ng, Royal Caribbean Cruises (Asia); Michael Goh, Genting Cruise Lines; Pauline Suharno, ASTINDO and PT Elok Tour; and Irene Chua, Northstar Travel Group.

While the country currently ranks just eighth in Asia in terms of outbound passenger numbers, which grew by 40% in 2017 to a total of 46,500, according to CLIA statistics, this figure is set to grow by leaps and bounds. 

The timing could not be better for Northstar Travel Group’s CruiseWorld conference, which made its way to Jakarta for the first time on November 22, as Indonesia is a source market that is well on its way up.

While the country currently ranks just eighth in Asia in terms of outbound passenger numbers, which grew by 40% in 2017 to a total of 46,500, according to CLIA statistics, this figure is set to grow by leaps and bounds. 

“In Indonesia, there are 260-plus million people but only 10 to 11 million are leaving the country to travel. And if we look at the number of passport holders, about nine million out of the entire population, just imagine the volume we can expect if we just multiply that by two," opined Singapore Tourism Board (STB)'s area director, Indonesia (Jakarta), Raymond Lim. 

Attendees learnt how to “Create New Revenue with Cruise Tourism”, the topic of the conference.
Attendees learnt how to “Create New Revenue with Cruise Tourism”, the topic of the conference.

“As visa restrictions ease for Indonesians travelling worldwide, Singapore, being so close to Indonesia, will benefit."

Echoing his bullish view on the Indonesian outbound market was Royal Caribbean Cruises (Asia)'s business development manager, South-east Asia, Simei Ng, who said, “This is a very positive time to be in the industry. The macroeconomic situation is good, we’ve got a young population, a growing middle class and a desire for travel and cruising fits in well with this.”

Cruise lines are already actively looking at various ways to tap the market potential: Genting Cruise Lines offers Muslims Halal-certified options on Genting Dream, while its themed cruise featuring Malaysian pop singer Sheila Majid helps create a differentiated experience; Royal Caribbean provides agent support in the form of regular product updates, sales and operational training, in-house seminars and an online platform called ‘Cruise for Excellence’, which offers an overview of the company’s products. 

The conference included a keynote address from STB, product presentations by cruise lines and Traveltek, a panel discussion and agent training by CLIA.
The conference included a keynote address from STB, product presentations by cruise lines and Traveltek, a panel discussion and agent training by CLIA.

But in order to truly leapfrog the potential of cruising, the role of travel agents who are at the frontline of the business must not be overlooked. “Whether the cruise business can grow three, five or 10 times in the future, the important question that I ask my travel partners is, ‘What is the cruise sales positioning in your product range?'," emphasised Michael Goh, senior vice president - international sales, Genting Cruise Lines (Dream Cruises & Star Cruises).

“If it’s in the top three choices of what you’re marketing, for sure, we see a future. But if it’s not even in the top 10 range, then obviously there’s a lot of work that needs to be done."

In order to do so, agencies must first recognise the true potential of cruise tourism in boosting their revenue – the topic that was chosen for the conference – above other existing tourism products.

131 agents, sponsors and exhibitors participated in the inaugural Cruiseworld Indonesia, which took place at Pullman Jakarta Indonesia, Thamrin CBD.
131 agents, sponsors and exhibitors participated in the inaugural Cruiseworld Indonesia, which took place at Pullman Jakarta Indonesia, Thamrin CBD.

Said Royanto Handaya, president director, PT Panorama JTB Tours Indonesia, “In the era of disruption, all travel agencies need reasons to survive. We cannot simply rely on selling ticketing or hotels or admission tickets as we are just intermediaries and cannot compete with OTAs in terms of price. So the key is really to grow our specialist products and that includes cruise.”

And if the audience of 131 agents, sponsors and exhibitors needed any further convincing, STB’s Lim had this to say, “Cruise is a sophisticated product that requires face-to-face selling. The person that is selling this needs to do a lot of convincing – and that's what an OTA cannot do. I don't know if cruise will eventually become commoditised like an air ticket or hotel room, but this is where the golden opportunity lies for agents serious in selling cruise as a specialised product.”

STB recognised six top Indonesian agents for their efforts in selling cruises to Singapore.
STB recognised six top Indonesian agents for their efforts in selling cruises to Singapore.

Once the mindset is there, agents have to equip themselves with the right understanding of their customers in order to sell the product successfully. 

For instance, to reach out to younger customers, Pauline Suharno, secretary general of ASTINDO and commissioner and director of PT Elok Tour, offered, “Most brick-and-mortar agents like mine promote using print ads or during travel fair but actually to tap on new segments like millennials, online marketing channels will be most cost-effective. 

“So for instance, you can share cruise promotions and new programmes through Whatsapp, get existing cruisers to participate in social media photo contests, and encourage them to refer your business to family or colleagues.”

Panorama’s Handaya concluded, “The target customer could be family, millennials, couples, friends or relatives – these are all different and we have to understand what they want and need and find a good product that fits.”


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