Australian travellers can’t get enough of Oceania Cruises, with the local market soaring to now sit as the cruise line’s second largest source. And it’s the cuisine served onboard that is luring a large slice of new and returning guests, according to Oceania Cruises’ Vice President of Sales Australia and New Zealand, Steve McLaughlin.
“I think we are leaning very heavily on that brand pillar of food,” McLaughlin told LATTE this week at an event in Sydney coinciding with the imminent arrival of Insignia to Australian waters after exiting a dry-dock in Singapore today.
McLaughlin said food writers are increasingly inspiring Aussies to experience the Oceania product.
“We’re actually not even in the Travel section of the Sydney Morning Herald some weeks. Some weeks we’re actually in the Food section, so we are appealing to a much broader audience. People may not have been looking for a cruise and they’ve accidentally come across our company,” he said.
Oceania Cruises’ audience demographic is an average age of 59 – depending on the length of voyage and the destination – an age that is “coming down”, McLaughlin told LATTE.
The biggest market share for the company is “definitely” NSW, followed then by Queensland and Victoria.
In the past 18 months, Australia has jumped to the number two global market, overtaking the UK, which slipped to number three. Australian sales are only bettered by North America.
“Very interestingly high is the significant number from New Zealand. They are Oceania’s fourth largest market in the world, not bad for a destination with a population less than Sydney.
“So there’s some very interesting twists to where we find our customers, and actually one of the big pointers goes back to people love the culinary experience and Oceania’s very laid back experience. There’s no dressing up…”
McLaughlin said the fly/cruise market for Oceania out of Australia to the Baltics and Mediterranean is enormous, accounting for between 63-65% of sales. “That’s a huge chunk of our business and so that is what we are focused on and do particularly well. And our repeat factor there is huge.”
“We are also very successful selling back-to-back, and back-to-back-to-back voyages as there’s no repeat ports,” he explained.
“Most Australians and Kiwis will go to Europe for certainly a month, sometimes two, sometimes three. They are escaping the cold weather. They go up there and have a great time.”
McLaughlin said Australian frontline sellers are also very well versed on promoting and booking connecting sailings.
“We’ve got the travel agents trained very well now to do the McDonald’s of the 1980s – to say “Would you like fries with that?” What we’ve got them now saying is “Did you realise where the ship will be on the voyage before, or that the ship goes onto Athens after you disembark? Have you been to that region at all?”
“And for agents booking back-to-back-to-back voyages for two travellers counts as six people. That really helps our revenue and agents with commission.”
Guests who book back-to-back cruises also receive special value-add on their second and third voyage.
Further, McLaughlin noted that Oceania’s 180-night World Cruise have been very successful with Australian cruisers.
“Our numbers that are going on it from Australia, on the full world cruise, are going through the roof. Prices are starting at just shy of $400 per person per day with absolutely everything included. So really, it’s not out of the ballpark for a lot of people.”
Every year, between 200-400 passengers take the World Cruise. A significant figure when the ships have a capacity of around 650 guests.
With the $150 million OceaniaNEXT revitalisation program scheduled and underway across Oceania Cruises’ four R-Class ships, and two O-Class ships, it begs the question, are more ships on the horizon?
McLaughlin’s response? “We always have a burning desire to have more.”