Interview with Ellen Bettridge, President & CEO of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Interview By: Angela Ogg, Contributing Editor for Travel Professional NEWS®
The Millennial market is in no doubt a hot topic of discussion. Seeing suppliers provide new offerings that appeal to our Millennial generation isn’t only important, but exciting. The U by Uniworld is the first of it’s kind and I was excited to learn more about this new line, it’s offering and it’s customization catered to the Millennial generation.
First and foremost, thank you for making the time to speak with us at Travel Professional NEWS® regarding the very exciting and new offering by Uniworld, U by Uniworld! We are excited to share this information with Travel Professionals and see the market grow with this new offering!
What kind of itineraries can we expect to see offered on this new line?
U offers nine itineraries total. Four eight-day itineraries—Rolling On The Rhine, Germany’s Finest, The Danube Flow and The Seine Experience—sail the Rhine, Main, Danube and Seine Rivers, with overnight stops and longer stays in major cities like Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam and Budapest. Three Super Cruise options combine two or more U itineraries into one 15 or 22-day bucket list journey. U by Uniworld also offers two five-day holiday itineraries–Dashing Through The Danube and A Merry Little Christmas Cruise–for those who want to experience the magic of Christmastime in Europe and a special New Year’s Eve celebration.
What kind of features can one expect to see on these new U by Uniworld ships?
There will be enhanced technology and screens onboard the U ships to engage travelers, encouraging them to connect at every point of their journey through pictures and more. The A and The B offer three room categories—Studio, Balcony and Suites—all with river views. Suites featuring French balconies and a living room area are perfect for honeymooners and those celebrating a special occasion. Balcony rooms are ideal for pairs, and groups of friends traveling together can enjoy Studio rooms that can accommodate up to three passengers. Solo travelers can take advantage of single rooms or special room share rates.
What is the inspiration of the design of these new U by Uniworld ships?
The inspiration behind the design of the ships is the demographic they are serving. Two Uniworld ships have been taken out of rotation, the River Ambassador and the River Baroness, to be renovated. The key public spaces and top deck will be changed to cater to a younger demographic with more communal space for travelers to connect. The ships will sport an eye-catching, sleek all-black exterior and more open, contemporary interiors will feature a black and white color scheme.
What is your key demographic with this new offering?
U by Uniworld is exclusively offered to travelers aged 21-45.
Will there be any new training or information available to Travel Professionals looking to offer this new line?
Uniworld has partnered with Questex to offer a Travel Agent University program for travel agents who are learning to sell the Uniworld brand using more in-depth knowledge of the product. With the launch of U, this program will expand its selling techniques to include tips on how to sell U.
The U by Uniworld is quite the concept, can you tell us a bit about this new offering, as well as what inspired its creation?
U features excursions and programming for every type of traveler, whether it’s guided tours or independent exploration. Those who want a guided, structured excursion will enjoy strolling through Paris at midnight, or going on a scavenger hunt in the Louvre. Those craving independent exploration will be handed a subway ticket and a map of the city to go off and explore on their own with suggestions from our local hosts. Ships will stay docked in ports overnight so guests can experience the local nightlife, with dedicated “U Hosts” available on every itinerary to guide you in the right direction. Since U encourages travelers to experience nightlife abroad, daytime excursions will start later in the day. Cuisine will revolve around creativity and dining will be more communal, while maintaining Uniworld’s high standards of quality, authenticity and choice for all dietary restrictions. We were inspired to create this new brand in order to provide a previously untapped generation of river cruisers with the opportunity to see the world in a completely different way, with a product designed specifically for them.
We all know that the Millennial is a hot topic; can you give us your opinion on why Travel Professionals should be focusing their efforts on this growing demographic?
We have learned through a series of focus groups that millennials are eager to experience river cruising and are drawn to its attributes. Like all generations, Millennials are constantly bombarded with information, and while peer endorsements are influential in decision-making, there is also a great opportunity for travel professionals to showcase their value as true experts. There is so much out there on social media that doesn’t necessarily represent an experience in its entirety, making a trusted resource who can cut through the clutter all the more important.
What can we expect in the future for U by Uniworld line?
We hope to continue to bring like-minded travelers together to the heart of European cities and allow them to explore in a way that best suits them. Ultimately, we wish to become so successful that we need to continue expanding with more ships and more itineraries.
We appreciate your time and insight on this topic, do you have any last words you would like to share to the Travel Professionals reading this interview?
U by Uniworld is the first river cruise of its kind, and our focus remains on driving innovation and continuing to exceed travelers’ expectations, which we are constantly doing by redesigning the existing fleet of ships, introducing new Super Ships and enhancing onboard and onshore programming to further elevate the luxury experience. We value our relationships with travel professionals immensely and are excited to get their feedback on this new product.
The U by Uniworld definitely stands out as a very strong option for the Millennial traveler looking for a unique experience. I hope that my husband and I can take advantage of one of these fantastic ships in the future!
We hope you enjoyed this look into the U by Uniworld offering.