Last updated: 02:31 PM ET, Mon January 11 2016

Cruise Planners’ 10 Trends Shaping Travel in 2016

Features & Advice | Robin Amster | January 06, 2016

Cruise Planners’ 10 Trends Shaping Travel in 2016

TravelPulse file photo

Competition is intensifying in the cruise space just as cruise lines are filling ships further out. Those are two of the New Year’s top ten travel trends, according to Cruise Planners, a franchise network of 1,400 home-based travel professionals.

The group reports it is already seeing double digit growth in sales for 2016.

“Travel is back in a big way; 2016 is already off to a strong start in the travel industry and I am glad travel agents are playing a huge role in that growth,” said Michelle Fee, Cruise Planners’ CEO and co-founder.

“Also, consumers are booking further out. We are already seeing more bookings for 2016 and into the next few years.”

Cruise Planners’ top 2016 travel trends are:

• More Inventory: With more cruise ships than ever before for both ocean and river cruises, competition is heating up. Cruise lines are responding in different ways, including featuring exotic itineraries, offering more value for clients, building huge mega ships, and introducing new river cruise ships. They’re also aggressively marketing to new-to-cruise consumers. Cruise Planners predicts even more new cruise products.

• Selling Early: Cruise lines are filling ships further out. That means they are not  offering deep discounts for last-minute cruises but, instead, are providing incentives with richer deals for travelers to book in advance.

•Travel Agents Offer the Best Value: The growing number of cruise ship products, each with its own personality, makes working with a travel agent even more important, Cruise Planners said. Agents can help match travelers with the best cruise ship for their needs. They also have access to the best deals, don’t cost clients any additional money and are client advocates throughout the booking and travel process.

Millennials  are Traveling: Millennials are traveling more and more and travel and cruise companies are taking notice. River cruise lines, for example, are expanding to focus on families and multi-generational guests with triple occupancy cabins.

Merging Travel with Technology: Technology is evident everywhere in travel from mobile travel apps to wristband room key access, high speed Wi-Fi connections to robotic bartenders.  We can expect even more developments this year.

Luxury Expansions: With the evolution of Crystal Cruises’ luxury portfolio expanding into the luxury river cruise market, yachting, and air market, upscale travelers will expect more well-rounded inclusions as part of their vacations.

Additional Offerings: Today, there are more all-inclusive sailings, more experiences and more cultural excursions for clients. Finding the right adventure or excursion is the best way to create memorable travel,  according to Cruise Planners.

The Impact of Cuba: Travel to Cuba is opening up and that promises to have an international impact. Many American travelers are interested in visiting Cuba; some want to go before it becomes  “Americanized” while others are waiting until more of its offerings are in line with what  U.S. tourists have come to expect.

Social Impact Travel: More and more travelers are looking for culturally-immersive experiences and that includes giving back to the destinations they visit. One response to that is Carnival’s new Fathom cruise line.

Themed Travel: Themed cruises are proliferating. Wine makers tours, beer cruises, Christmas markets, golf themed trips, music focused vacations, and more, give travel agents opportunities to create their own groups and themed events. 


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