“Uncertainty” the biggest challenge, says Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten APAC MD Damian Perry chats with LATTE

Damian Perry, Managing Director, Hurtigruten Asia Pacific

Expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten is hopeful a new booking policy that offers added layers of flexibility will sway a favourable decision from potential guests perplexed by current COVID-19 travel restrictions.

This week Hurtigruten launched a new ‘Book with Confidence’ campaign for Antarctica and Norway, which not only offers significant savings and/or cruise credits, but no-cost date changes and the cruise line’s lowest ever deposit requirement, 5% of the cruise fare instead of 20%.

For full details on the updated policy, click here.

According to Hurtigruten Asia Pacific’s Managing Director, Damian Perry, the policy seeks to overcome the “biggest challenge” in the market at present that is fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic: “uncertainty”.

“This policy provides us with the opportunity to instil confidence for travellers when they make a reservation. If they make a booking, it is secure. The alternatives are secure, and the risk is very, very low,” Perry told LATTE.

Hurtigruten’s local boss said the response to the policy from travel advisors and consumers so far has been “very good”. Bookings have already started to filter through, but as expected, nowhere near the levels of this time 12 months ago, or even two months ago before the Australian government put a ban on non-essential travel.

“We have seen some reservations for 2020 but the majority are for 2021. In my opinion, that’s due to the external issue of there being no clarity from the [Australian] government that people are allowed to travel internationally. There’s no clear message, so people are understandably somewhat cautious and booking for 2021.”

Hurtigruten Antarctica“Those people who are booked in have a feeling of confidence because we’re offering a great solution – that’s everything from a low deposit to a change of booking guarantee. And I think that is the biggest hurdle. Ensuring their confidence in investing in their next journey.”

Perry says the ‘Book with Confidence’ initiative will remain in place until there is “some clarity around when we can travel comfortably and with more certainty”.

“The primary objective is to enable people to feel comfortable that if they make a booking, they are secure, and that is exactly what this does.”

Quizzed by LATTE if this kind of policy could be sustained for the medium- to long-term, Perry said it was possible that some elements may be retained.

“This policy provides us with the opportunity to instil confidence for travellers when they make a reservation. If they make a booking, it is secure. The alternatives are secure, and the risk is very, very low,” Perry told LATTE.

Hurtigruten’s local boss said the response to the policy from travel advisors and consumers so far has been “very good”. Bookings have already started to filter through, but as expected, nowhere near the levels of this time 12 months ago, or even two months ago before the Australian government put a ban on non-essential travel.

“We have seen some reservations for 2020 but the majority are for 2021. In my opinion, that’s due to the external issue of there being no clarity from the [Australian] government that people are allowed to travel internationally. There’s no clear message, so people are understandably somewhat cautious and booking for 2021.”

“I believe one of the big things that will come out of it is that some people need a level of flexibility, and where there were really stringent rules in the past which required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, I think the marketplace will become far more flexible and sensitive to consumer needs.

“But I don’t think there will be a full-blown ‘Book with Confidence’ forever concept because the responsibility is on both the operator and the consumer.”

Hurtigruten’s current ‘Book with Confidence’ campaign covers Expedition Cruises from 1 January 2021 to 30 March 2022, and Coastal Voyages departing from 1 October 2020 to 30 March 2022.

More on Hurtigruten’s current deals here: hurtigruten.com.au/all-special-offers

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