GoCruise is looking to invest “a substantial amount” in new technology in a bid to ensure the business is “fit for the future”.
Delegates at the agency’s annual conference, held at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire last week, were told technology would be a key factor in the business’s future.
Geoff Ridgeon, head of cruise at parent company Fred Olsen Travel, said a new booking portal would make the booking process simpler and quicker. He said the new system would be as a result of “GoCruise’s biggest-ever investment in technology”. The system will allow franchisees to dynamically package.
Other investments will include making the website mobile-friendly, something Ridgeon admits “has taken longer than it should have done”. “We’ve probably been a bit behind the curve, but it is a priority,” he added. “Technology is a big focus for us this year.”
The plans came as Ridgeon revealed that GoCruise bookings had grown by more than 10% compared with 2014, “outperforming” the UK cruise market which he believed grew by 2%-3% last year (Clia UK’s official figures have yet to be released).
He is aiming for at least 10% growth again this year.
“We had tremendous success in 2015 but it wasn’t without its challenges,” he said.
“Our successes have been down to us putting more emphasis on individual franchisee promotion and more targeted marketing than we have done before to customer databases. In our marketing we’ve also taken focus away from the deal itself and moved it to the value of what’s offered.”
Speaking just a week into the key booking period, Ridgeon described the start of 2016 as being “very buoyant”.
“It’s still very early days,” he said. “But it does bode well for GoCruise and the industry as a whole; it feels like there is more potential than at the same time last year.”