FORT LAUDERDALE – Driven by satisfied customers eager to travel more, despite the uncertain economy, the cruise industry is well-positioned for continued growth and success. Continuing to play an essential role in generating the industry’s sales are the nation’s travel agents, especially those with CLIA certification. These are some of the conclusions to be drawn from the Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 2008 Cruise Market Profile Study released today.
The biannual survey of American consumers, first conducted in 1986, identifies American consumer demographics, attitudes and intentions as they relate to leisure travel and specifically to cruising. Research was conducted online in March and April 2008 by TNS, a leading market research firm. A total of 2,426 U.S. residents were interviewed.
This year’s findings reinforce previous studies in painting a picture of a healthy, in-demand cruise industry fueled by vacationers with broader travel interests than non-cruisers and whose satisfaction with cruising is based on perceived and realized value. In 2007, 9.57 million Americans took a cruise vacation representing 76 percent of the total 12.56 million guests carried on CLIA member cruise lines. Based on this year’s study, 33.7 million Americans stated intent to cruise within the next three years.
“Given the current economic climate, we are particularly pleased to see that American cruisers remain bullish on the industry. Their high satisfaction with a wonderfully diverse cruise product drives their intention to take more cruises. In fact, cruisers represent the ideal travel prospect, because of their broad interest in all types of travel and willingness to spend on what they perceive to be high value experiences,” said Terry Dale, CLIA’s president and CEO. “This fact is not lost on CLIA’s nearly 16,000 travel agency members who continue to be the industry’s invaluable distribution system and consumers’ most reliable source of assistance and service in planning and booking vacations.”
Among the findings on travel agent use: • Among all of those in the cruise target market (25+ years of age and incomes $40,000 or more), nearly three in five (56%) have used a travel agent for any purpose.
• Travel agent usage has declined slightly but some of the apparent decline may be due to confusion on the part of consumers who reported using a Website without knowing that it was actually a travel agency’s online service or Website.