SWOFTIES – Single Women Over Fifty – are the target for cruise lines

//SWOFTIES – Single Women Over Fifty – are the target for cruise lines

How are you thinking ahead for your next holiday? Britain’s cruise lines and travel agents are hoping that more people are looking at taking to the high seas.
On the eve of National Cruise Week, 400 of the industry’s leaders gathered in Liverpool to try to find the formula for continued success, with “Think Ahead” as their slogan.
As it turned out there was more talk about soggy bottoms than keels and cabins. The Great British Bake Off was a favourite topic among the presentations and 2011 winner Jo Wheatley was among the guest speakers at the event organised by the UK wing of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Naturally enough, cupcakes featured among the day’s refreshments alongside generous bowls of Scouse and pickled beetroot – appropriately enough as delegates were gathered within sight of Liverpool’s Pier Head and the iconic Royal Liver Building.
They heard, as if they did not already know, that the number of cruise passengers has grown by 8% a year since 2000 – double the rate of travel as a whole. River cruising is expanding even faster – up 14% last year.
One of countless surveys commissioned by sellers discovered that 62% of the country has said it is not interested in cruise. That still leaves 17.5 million who would be interested – 10 times as many people who do take a cruise each year.
Except that’s not the true figure, because more than half the people who cruise take more than one a year – they know they’re on to a good thing.
In a world where most efforts are concentrated on selling cruise to a new audience and attracting younger customers, Fred Olsen’s sales and marketing director Nathan Philpot rocked his audience by urging them to aggressively target the grey market, the over-55s, over-65s and over-75s.
He is still stinging from the criticism levelled at BBC TV series The Cruise: A Life At Sea, criticised for portraying “a jolly band of geriatrics busking their way through Gilbert and Sullivan”.
He had another target market in his sights: SWOFTIES, or Single Women Over Fifty. It could be Fred Olsen’s genteel way of going for the cougar crowd, but it raised expectations in some quarters.
Christine Duffy, CLIA’s overall president and CEO, flew in from Miami to assure us that “challenges” posed by the Costa Concordia tragedy and other shipboard mishaps were being met head on to maintain customer confidence.
“Cruise ship incidents are global media events and we are under a harsher microscope than ever before,” she said.
But back to the big topic of the day. I’ve got another suggestion for the cruise lines, and especially for Royal Caribbean’s Jo Rzymowska, who will soon be taking the reins at Celebrity’s UK operation.
If she follows up the Bake Off talk by signing up its stars to take a series of cruises she would fill every one in moments. What’s more, the steely-eyed Paul Hollywood and the ever-youthful 78-year-old Mary Berry would ensure that there would never be any soggy bottom moments at sea.

By | 2015-04-10T14:41:43+00:00 21 September 2013|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

Leave A Comment