HAL Group’s Stein Kruse on Supporting Trade Partners & Engaging Millenials
not much that is static in the travel industry, but Holland America Group CEO
Stein Kruse says one thing hasn’t changed for him in more than 20 years – his
belief in the travel trade as a key distribution partner.
“I don’t think I’ve ever wavered on my views,”
Kruse told Cruise Week.
“The distribution system that we have, whether it’s North America or elsewhere,
is themost important vehicle
that we can use for selling our products. So we are going to continueto support our trade partners.
“We want our trade partners to succeed, because through their success we will
continueto expand our business.
They are out there talking to the public as ambassadors of ourproducts. So the distribution system
is incredibly important to us.”
other fronts, however, Kruse says things are changing quickly.
“We have a new generation of travellers coming in, millennials, who have acompletely different way of thinking
in terms of how they go about planning and how theypurchase.”
To learn more about this nascent group, Kruse and other Carnival brand
presidents spent 2 days in San Francisco this summer meeting with some of the
leading tech companies in theworld.
“Part of those meetings were for us to better understand what technology we
shouldinvest in and what type of
products we need to have in order to continue to serve up ourbrands in a meaningful way to the
travellers of today and of the future.
“Millennials, of course, are going to be incredibly important. They are coming
into increasing purchasing power,
so we need to understand how they want to be communicatedwith, how they want their choices
served up, and so forth.”
Kruse says it’s critical for retailers to conduct similar diligence, and to
recruit new staff from millennial ranks.
the distribution system can tap into that and do that in a meaningful way, I’d
love tocontinue to grow the distribution
system beyond where it is today, and see more people comein, become travel sellers, and
continue to perpetuate it.”
from major retail conferences, Cruise Week says the retail side of the
business is on it.
Every major retail event they have attended this yearhas contained sessionsfeaturing millennial topics. And
retail interest is strong.
For instance, when Nexion held its conference onNorwegian
Getaway, a workshop on
tapping into the millennial market and motivating that segment to purchase had
to be moved to a larger venue.
Rick Zimmerman, President & CEO of KHM TravelGroup, “We’re seeing that millennials
are more receptive to travel agent usage than boomers,more receptive than Gen X.”
Millennials, he says, like to talk to experts. “But they want to check you out.
They want tosee what the
Internet says about you and the about the way you respond to people.”
Zimmerman says every age group is different. “We have people heading into
retirement that are getting into the business. We haveGen X-ers who are looking to
supplement that income [from a 1st job] and travel. Butmillennials have the innovative ideas.
They aren't stuck with old marketing ways. Some oftheir concepts are absolutely