Australia’s love affair with Greece came to the fore this week in Sydney as Azamara hosted around 60 top sellers and media to a White Night celebration at Beta Bar on Wednesday.
The “AzAmazing Evening” was a carbon-copy of what guests cruising with Azamara can expect when travelling with the luxury cruise line. Regardless of the country, on every sailing Azamara takes guests on an AzAmazing Evening that reflects the culture and the style of the nation they are in, reflecting the pillars of the business – connecting people to people, people to culture and people to themselves.
Though local for Azamara, Greece is the number one destination booked by Australia and New Zealand travellers, said Azamara Business Development Manager for ANZ, Belle Osmic. It was only fitting that guests enjoyed a Greek feast of both flavours and senses with live music over four-courses.
“When we brought out Country Intensive Voyages, Greece was the number one destination asked for by travel partners … by everyone in the market,” Osmic said.This year, there will have been a total of 56 port days in Greece and that number will jump to 64 in 2020.
Azamara offers eight specialised Greek intensive trips. The most popular itinerary is the In-depth Exploration of Greece, which highlights the culture, mythology and cuisine. For many years, the core message for Azamara has been ‘Destination Immersion’. It’s a trademarked tagline built around the principals of longer stays at ports, more overnights and night touring, and the concept has continued to develop and expand over the years. On some cruise days, guests disembark the ship at 7am and do not return until 10-12pm.
More recently, and to enable Azamara to access destinations further inland to regions where Azamara Quest, Journey and Pursuit were unable to reach, the cruise line has delved deeper into exploration on the land and placed a greater focus on ‘Country Intensive’ Voyages.
There is now also a suite of off-the-boat experiences to unlock in destinations, grouped under the term Land and Sea Packages. They comprise ‘Stay Local‘ for in-depth one city immersion; ‘Experiences‘ that explore areas further inland and have guests away from the ship between one-three nights; ‘AzAmazing Journeys‘ of three to six nights pre- or post-cruise with between 12-18 guests; and the larger-group (typically 20-24 guests but at times up to 30) ‘Land Journeys‘ which explore some exotic destinations far from the sea, such as Machu Picchu in Lima.
Osmic also briefed top sellers on Azamara’s audience demographic, saying the cruise line tends to attract active empty-nesters, who snap up the e-bikes available on board at every port of call, and enjoy hikes and getting out and exploring.
Azamara has an enviable repeat guest rate of 43%, with decision drivers on itineraries based around the longer stays and guests wishing to travel with like-minded people. Additionally, research identified their guests were keen on land experiences that shared the same level of quality found aboard Quest, Journey and Pursuit, as well as five-star glamping, nights in castles and accommodation that was “a little bit different,” Osmic explained.
“The other section of our guests were new to cruising. Not just new to Azamara or our family of brands, but had never cruised before they came on a Azamara cruise. At the moment across the three ships in 2018 that was 57% of our guests on board. We looked at guests that had already done resort stays, we looked at international cities and they were seasoned culture seekers,” she said.
“Decision drivers for our guests were the facilities that they have a luxury stay, but for 77% of our new guests it was all about the land program, the shorex [shore excursions] they could do, what they could experience.”
It’s that very reason why Azamara offers over 180 ‘Voyages Beyond the Sea’ in its 2020/2021 Destination Guide, which will be distributed to agencies in early December.
To end the evening and to celebrate Azamara’s new African itineraries, the line announced an exclusive trade trip on Azamara Quest sailing through South Africa in January next year. One partner, Vivien Davies from Sylvania Travel, walked away with a land and sea experience while two top sellers can still win a place on board. The three agents selected will enjoy a preview of Azamara’s new sea itineraries as well as the African land programs, available from December 2020.
Lead image: Azamara Australia and New Zealand’s Gavin Smith, Managing Director; Belle Osmic, Business Development Manager, and Peter McCormack, Head of Sales.