Scenic Group’s six-year-old Emerald Waterways river cruise brand, a sister company to the Australian deluxe holiday brand Evergreen Cruises & Tours, has this week marked its Australian entry.
Since its launch in 2014, the Emerald Waterways river cruise product has been awarded numerous accolades and is positioned to offer “high quality, four-star and exceptional value”, complementing Scenic Group’s luxury segment lead by Scenic Luxury Cruises.
Angus Crichton, Director Sales, Marketing & Product for Evergreen Cruises & Tours, told LATTE on Monday [29 June 2020] the coronavirus pandemic provided an opportunity for the company to transition to the Emerald brand in this market, two years after it emerged in New Zealand.
Scenic Group acquired Evergreen Tours in 1988. This year the home-grown premium touring brand is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It is one of the largest Australian touring businesses in the Canadian market.
Crichton said COVID-19 “acted as a trigger for a brand reset” in Australia and is adamant the legacy Evergreen brand would not be replaced by Emerald due to its long history and customer loyalty. The brand also resonates well with travel agents.
“Everybody is comfortable with the positioning and agents know what the Evergreen brand represents. Evergreen will remain but catering primarily for land touring,” he said.
The official launch of Emerald Waterways in Australia follows the February introduction of the Emerald Yacht Cruising brand for the launch of the Emerald Azzurra superyacht in 2021. Crichton said travel advisors are also familiar with the name which has featured prominently on client documentation since the Emerald Sky‘s debut in Amsterdam. Plus, each of the nine existing ships (the majority of which are ‘Star-Ships’) share the name Emerald.
“In the last two years we’ve also launched Emerald Harmony on the Mekong. We’ve got ships closer to the Australian market, and with Emerald Waterways in New Zealand, the time is now right to introduce the brand in Australia.”
Save time, use ExpressBook
For travel agents, there will be no difference in the enquiry or booking process, with the existing contact numbers remaining unchanged. A new localised website for Emerald Waterways is currently under development.
Speaking of websites, Crichton remains baffled by the low proportion of travel agents using Scenic Group’s online trade booking channel, ExpressBook, to secure their client’s travel requests, he questioned. Particularly at this time when phone lines are extremely busy and dominated by consumers contacting the company to arrange alternative travel dates for their COVID-19 postponed itineraries.
“If an agent has new business wouldn’t you want to secure cabins straight away with the client and produce an invoice then and there, instead of sitting on hold on a phone call. I don’t understand why ExpressBook is not used more by agents, to be efficient and to convert new business quickly, rather than giving clients an option to wait.”
2021 European River Cruise program
The maiden Australian Emerald Waterways branded European River Cruise program for 2021 will roll out in July, featuring the new Emerald Luna and offering fresh land extensions to Istanbul and Transylvania.
There are two brand-new voyages: a 10-day Springtime Delights cruise in April operating round trip from Amsterdam, and a revised eight-day Legendary Rhine & Moselle sailing from Frankfurt (Mainz) to Bernkastel.
Emerald Waterways will also offer three new five-day Christmas Market sailings on the Rhine, Danube and Rhone (for the first time).
And for 2021, all river cruise bookings will include Emerald Waterways’ Deposit Protection Plan (valued at $125 per person) at no extra cost.
Lead image: Emerald Waterways ‘Star Ship’ Owners One Bed Suite, Avignon, France