Cruise Circle launches recruitment drive as it expands product portfolio

Cruise Circle is aiming to double the size of its sales and customer service teams as it looks to expand its product portfolio by offering river, luxury and expedition cruises.

Managing director Jason Daniels launched a recruitment drive this week amid a three-stage growth plan to launch more products online.

He said: “We’re going to double the size of our product portfolio. Whilst we can sell most cruise product, we currently only feature 16 mainstream ocean cruise lines on our website, but in order to cope with doubling our product [portfolio] over the next year we need a recruitment drive.”

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The Derbyshire-based agency is looking for up to five sales staff and at least two more people to join its customer service team within 12 months, plus another product executive and a marketing manager.

Daniels expects the search for new staff to go into next year. “I am getting very little back from recruitment agencies and all I am told is everyone is after more staff at the moment,” he said.

Asked why experienced travel industry staff should join Cruise Circle, Daniels highlighted how all existing employees had just been given a salary increase to help with the cost of living.

“We know that we’re at the market rate,” he said. “We also know that we cannot, and do not want, to be paying the minimum wage.”

This year Cruise Circle started offering all staff a monthly contribution towards anything that benefits their mental and physical wellbeing, such as gym memberships.

This was combined with a new scheme to buy or sell holiday days and the opportunity for everyone to take an additional day’s leave each year to organise a charity event, which the business will also support.

“We try to get together as often as we can, and we look after our staff. It’s a really positive culture to work in and we do not have a high turnover of staff.”

Daniels said the agency lost three staff during the pandemic, including one to nursing, one to the NHS and another who wanted to work at a local authority.

He added the trio ultimately “did not feel comfortable” with the industry. “We’ve filled the positions and now we’re looking to expand,” he added.

The agency is expanding its product portfolio because the mainstream cruise market is becoming “overcrowded”, Daniels added.

“I’m not sure if mainstream cruise is a specialist product anymore,” he said. “There’s a price war going on with some ridiculously aggressive discounting from the big volume players.

“Sometimes we have to go down to margins that we really don’t want to. We’ve got a wealth of knowledge and experience within the business, but to have all of that overlooked because of unnecessary discounting is frustrating.

“The average selling price for a river cruise is a bit higher and luxury and expedition cruises are a lot higher.”

Cruise Circle currently has a repeat booking rate across its customer base of around 60% and now has a “better understanding” of its customers due to investment in a new Customer Relationship Management platform.

“We’re in a much better position to use that data now,” he said. “I am sure that some of our customers are also doing river cruises, but because we do not feature it yet on our website they are probably booking directly with the river cruise line or with another agent.”

On luxury and expedition, Daniels believes “the luxury cruise brands sometimes stand out for the wrong reason when featured alongside the mainstream lines”.

He added giving luxury brands a “dedicated environment” on the Cruise Circle website should help it “quantify the exceptional value they offer with their inclusions”.

Daniels said the expedition sector was a “huge growth market and Cruise Circle wants to be part of it”.

“On a personal note, it’s something I’m keen to learn more about, Antarctica has always fascinated me,” he added.

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