Why Buy a Europe River Cruise from Us?

Why Buy a Europe River Cruise from Us?

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert

www.dreamdestinations.com

There are about 75.000 to 100,000 professional travel agents in business in the United States.  There are also the giants of the internet (Travelocity, Expedia, etc.) and wholesalers (Costco).  You can also buy direct from many travel vendors.  To be sure, you the consumer, have a lot of choices and ways to buy travel.

With the plethora of options, it got me to thinking—Why should you buy a river cruise or for that manner, any travel from us?—from Anne & Hank Schrader, of Visit Dream Destinations, LLC!

I will begin by answering this question by explaining what the Europe River Cruise Trends are and then talk about sellers of travel (travel agents and others).

For sellers of travel, my game plan here is to define our competition first, and then tell you who we are, what we stand for and who are customers are. 

Finally, I will explain why you should buy a river cruise from us.

Europe River Cruise Trends

From 2004 to 2015, Europe River Cruise bookings increased by 14% in North America market compared to a 3% increase for Ocean Cruises.  In 2016, 1.4 million sailed on a river cruise in Europe.  40% were from North America.  That translates into 560,000 potential berths available to fill. (Source Cruise Line International Association (CLIA)

Europe had 346 active river cruise vessels (with 50,616 beds), and it is the largest river cruise fleet in the world.  In 2017, 17 new river cruise vessels were added in European waters.

The Danube River has the most river cruise sailing vessels, even though there was a 20% increase of vessels on the Rhine River. (Source EU Market Observation of Inland Navigation in Europe)

The takeaway—there are plenty of opportunities for us to sell river cruises—there is sufficient availability for you to go on a river cruise in Europe, especially if you book 9 months or so before the desired trip (a pro tip—book early as some best cabins and sailing dates go quickly—we know these crucial facts about the most likely to go early—folks who wait too late sometimes miss out).

Our Travel Agent Competition

Only 17.5% of travel agents sell river cruises regularly.  Most agents report only 10% of their sales come from river cruises (Source Cruise Line International Association). 

River cruises comprise 59%-70%  or more of our yearly sales, so we have a solid track record compared to our competition.  Since we sell more than others, we have the experience to get you the right Europe River Cruise.  Folks would not book with us if we could not consistently deliver high quality trips.

WHO WE ARE

  Anne & Hank at the Captain’s Table on an AmaWaterways cruise

Anne & Hank at the Captain’s Table on an AmaWaterways cruise

Our River Cruise Marketing Vision—Our Niche

We want to become the trusted travel advisors of choice for discerning travelers who want a good value for their travel budgets.  Our mission is to provide the highest quality, expertly planned European River Cruise Vacations for groups and individuals.

We Specialize in European River Cruises and Adventures—we are Europe River Cruise Experts

  Anne & Hank enjoy a sundowner party on their Scenic Opal voyage—one of the joys of river cruising is the included value events like this great celebration—let us help you go soon!

Anne & Hank enjoy a sundowner party on their Scenic Opal voyage—one of the joys of river cruising is the included value events like this great celebration—let us help you go soon!

Our Identity—our Brand

Our identity is that we are experienced, certified professionals, with exceptional first-hand knowledge of Europe River Cruising and our company stands for high quality vacations, integrity in all our dealings, with a friendly, down to earth approach to travel that results in awesome vacation experiences—we are Europe River Cruise Experts!

Our Services

On our website, we have a wonderful page that explains our expert travel planning services.  We have 4 main sales areas.  Our two most important travel planning services are Europe River Cruises and Europe Vacations.  We also sell Ocean Cruises (especially to Europe destinations) and we are a full service travel agency.  Here is the link to our services page on the website: https://www.dreamdestinations.com/our-services/

Who are our River Cruise Customers?

Our ideal customer is an experienced traveler, in the 50-70+ age group.  They are most likely a middle to upper class income couple who love the value and convenience of a luxury cruise, a river cruise or a luxury tour.  They are educated, have enough disposable income to travel, and want a quality vacation experience, often with cultural immersion and visits to historical sites, without major hassles.  They know geography and world events.  They want a vacation that is relaxing, that allows them to see new places or revisit familiar favorites that will provide them with great memories.  Often they are celebrating a milestone event

Of our 62 top clients, 95% match our ideal client. When you read this, does this match who you are—it is our guess it does!

 One of our many river cruise groups we have escorted

One of our many river cruise groups we have escorted

Why do we sell Europe River Cruises?

 You could never see a castle this clearly from land but it is awe inspiring when you cruise the Danube—Schonbuhl Castle in Austria

You could never see a castle this clearly from land but it is awe inspiring when you cruise the Danube—Schonbuhl Castle in Austria

Here are some reasons why river cruising is growing in popularity and we sell them:

a.     There is a rising demand for new experiences and exotic destinations around the world

b.     Many passengers have been on a big ship cruise and are now looking for a more intimate style of cruising with fewer passengers

c.      River cruising offers the benefits of big-ship ease coupled with the enrichment of touring

d.       River cruise vessels are able to travel into the heart of the countries they sail through

e.      River cruises allow passengers to enjoy a more in-depth, authentic experience in multiple destinations, smaller towns and villages

f.       River cruises allow passengers to enjoy as much, or as little, autonomy as they desire

g.      River cruises offer more value for money and time – the advantages of ocean cruises, combined with the best of what land tours have to offer

Here are the Top Motivators for travelers to choose a river cruise:

1.     Destination and Itinerary

 Sailing the lower Danube in the Iron Gates region

Sailing the lower Danube in the Iron Gates region

2.     Authentic Experiences in Small Towns and Destinations

 Durnstien—a small village of 600—one reason Europe river cruises are so popular

Durnstien—a small village of 600—one reason Europe river cruises are so popular

3.     Smaller Ships and Intimate Ambience

 Our luxury cabin on an AmaWaterways cruise

Our luxury cabin on an AmaWaterways cruise

4.     Incorporated Land Programs and Sightseeing

 Hank visiting Windmills on a Tulip Time Cruise—easy to see on a river cruise; hard to see without a special tour

Hank visiting Windmills on a Tulip Time Cruise—easy to see on a river cruise; hard to see without a special tour

5.     Shipboard Service and Lifestyle

 A great seafood buffet on the Scenic Opal—best I’ve ever had!

A great seafood buffet on the Scenic Opal—best I’ve ever had!

6.     All-Inclusivity of the Product and Perceived Value

7.     Convenience

From our client feedback, all of these motivators and perceptions echo our client’s experiences.  Most of our river cruise clients have taken at least 2 or more river cruises, booked by us. Does this match your perception of a Europe river cruise? —we hope so!

What are the Benefits to buying a Europe river cruise from us?

Here is a quick summary that will provide you 4 benefits of buying from us

Feature Benefit for You

Our Extensive Knowledge of River Cruise We match you with the right cruise company for seamless , awesome vacation trips

Our Ability to Create Exceptional pre-/post stays Better vacation trips with enhanced opportunities—adds valuable experiences

Great, Professional and Reliable Travel Advice Helps you make wise travel choices and helps you get the best value for your money

Complete Planning Services Eliminates hassles and avoid mistakes

One of our biggest competitive advantages is our knowledge and publications about river cruising.  For example, our 2016 and 2018-19 River Cruise Company Comparisons PowerPoints are on the first page of Google—that is a remarkable achievement for a 2 person, small travel agency (trust me, we did not pay even 1 cent to get that ranking, we earned it for its content).  Here is the link: Europe River Cruise Company Comparisons

  One of the 86 slides of our 2018-19 River Cruise Comparisons

One of the 86 slides of our 2018-19 River Cruise Comparisons

Another competitive advantage is our first-hand knowledge of Europe river cruising—we have taken 16 Europe river cruises and are about to take our 17th (that’s over 4 months of Europe river cruise adventures).

With our industry connections, we can get you perks not available to all.  For example, we have purchased promotional discounts on AmaWaterways (future cruise credits) that can reduce prices by 5%. 

Our Europe Destination Guides, that cover the top 50 cities in Europe, are unique and a valuable resource to ensure our clients do not miss the top sights and experiences.  These 2-4 page guides (using a standard 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper) are packed with information and can be easily folded to carry in your pocket—no huge guide book to carry.

In short, we are more experienced, more knowledgeable and more competent than almost all other travel agents selling river cruises.  We can provide you perks and anticipate your needs.  We are Europe River Cruise Experts.

Our Customer Service—what can you expect when you use our services?

Here is our list of service expectations to each client—we want to deliver outrageously good customer service:

We will follow up 100% on our promises—we will return calls & emails as promised.

We will send a hand-written note to each person who books with us before and after the trip.

We will be in contact during the whole process before, and during the trip to resolve any problems or questions that arise during the planning and booking process, or during the trip.

We will contact each customer after each trip for feedback and follow up on these results.

We will offer special group amenities to increase the value of our group travel.

We will make the whole process fun and hassle free.

My Final Thoughts

Europe River Cruising is a wonderful vacation but it is often sold by agents who just do not know enough about the product to make a good vacation an exceptional one that exceeds your expectations.  We are the experts and use our expertise to help you have the best possible experience.  We know the river port destinations without the need to look them up in a brochure or guide—we have been there, and seen them first-hand.  Perhaps this knowledge, coupled with want you desire to see and experience, is the key—our recommendations will help you have an exceptional travel experience.

As you can see, making wise river cruise travel choices, is more complex than you may have thought.  Trip planning is not easy.  Making sound decisions are critical to the travel planning process.  Time and money issues are complex—we all want the best at the least possible price.  We help you solve those complex issues, saving you hassles, time and worry.  We are travel experts, ocean and river cruise experts, and Europe destination experts.  We have first-hand knowledge of almost anywhere you want to visit in Europe.  We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you.  We have designed special tours for dozens of clients, led several and will continue to find just the right vacation that will exceed your expectations.

When you are spending your hard-earned money for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip.  You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience.  And, you want someone who can help you with the decision making process.  We think we have all these qualities.

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com.  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

  Hank Schrader

Hank Schrader

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist

  • Viking River Cruise Specialist

  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist

  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist

  • Avalon Waterways Specialist

  • Brit Agent