Monday, 23 June 2014

I think we all should talk

I think we all should talk

By Michelle Baran
InsightAmid another busy river cruise ship christening season, talking shop and comparing notes about the competition with executives in the river cruise industry, it occurred to me that the river cruising sector could use a good old-fashioned coffee talk.

Whenever I meet up with executives in the river cruise industry, inevitably some of the same issues come up: things like whether crowding on the rivers in Europe is increasingly becoming an issue as more newbuilds continue to launch, and the pros and cons of onboard amenities like balconies and pools.

In a recent post, I addressed the fact that the river cruise industry could benefit from an association dedicated to the issues that are specific to this quickly growing segment of the travel marketplace.

But until that happens, I think those of us who cover river cruising, those who sell the product and, of course, the river cruise lines themselves would benefit from a meeting in which the heads of the major river cruise companies all got together and had a sort of working group discussion.

I have proposed the idea of moderating such a forum with some of the major river cruise lines, and interest was expressed. With all of our busy travel and work schedules, and with an already jam-packed calendar of industry events ahead of us, I’m not sure how and whether we can pull it off.

But I’m putting it out there anyways. This is a critical time for the river cruise industry. Things are developing quickly, and the business is growing at a lightning pace. This is exactly the time to tackle potential problems as well as to highlight the opportunities that lie ahead.

A certain degree of cooperation already exists between the river cruise lines — they aren’t entirely silent foes — especially when it comes to concerns that everyone has to address, such as staggering departures in a way so that lines can share limited port space and not overwhelm the smaller towns they visit by all pulling in at once.

But beyond that, there are topics that could use further dissection, and circumstances that could become detrimental to the industry if not addressed, such as crowding and sustainability.