Hurtigruten’s UK sales office to take on wider remit

The UK sales office of cruiseline Hurtigruten is to take on responsibility for the US, Far East and emerging markets for the first time following an internal review.

The office is currently respomsible for the UK, South Africa and Australia sales offices but will extend its remit to rationalise its business and cut costs in the current climate.

Sales markets will now be split into three divisions covering Nordic countries; continental Europe; and UK, US, Australia and emerging markets. Germany is the cruiseline’s largest market, followed by the UK, which has a 15% of sales.

UK managing director Iain Cottam said: “We are rationalising our sales approach to international markets and the UK will take on more responsibility.”

Cottam admitted the cruiseline would look at further synergies, with the roll out of a new reservation system later this year.

“We want a more streamlined approach by looking at how our central reservations are placed. At the moment we have different systems and through the course of this year, when we go on sale for 2010 sales, there will be a new booking system,” he added.

Cottam could not say if jobs would be affected by the changes. To date no cuts have been announced, he said.

Meanwhile, the UK office has not revised its trade sales targets – it plans to increase its share of bookings from travel agents from 55% to 85% of sales within three years. “We have got to continue to build up the confidence of retailers,” he said.

But he admitted margins were being hit. “Margins are being hit more than we would have liked but we have to keep up with the rest of the market,” he said.

It is important for cruiselines to bring out offers earlier where possible and hold their nerve on price. He added: “We are constantly putting offers into the market place. We have got to get these offers into the market earlier and if nothing else hold our nerve on price. We are a lot better placed than five years ago.”

More information:

* Hurtigruten offers no single supplements for agent bookings (Travel Weekly, February 2009)

* Hurtigruten launches free flights offers for agents (Travel Weekly, January 2009)

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