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In travel and tourism, the cruise industry was among the hardest hit by the pandemic. And as numbers picked up, so did the number of direct cruise bookings. But while direct bookings may have gained traction during the pandemic, the trend is predicted to reverse by 2025, when advisor-booking levels are expected to return to 2019 levels of 70 percent and increase even further by 2026.

Bucking that upward trajectory is Viking Cruises‘ parent company, which recently took the company public and announced plans to expand from river and ocean cruises, do more land-based tour business, and—in a negative move for agents—grow direct bookings as a way to “improve profit margins” and foster more guest interaction, according to Viking.

Zane Kerby, President & CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), has responded to to Viking Cruises’ plan to grow direct sales with the following statement:

“Viking wouldn’t be the first company to try and have their cake and eat it too when it comes to guidance regarding their stock price. Travel Advisors book nearly 59 percent of all cruises in the U.S. By 2026 they’ll be selling nearly 71% of all cruises.* And, unlike the U.S. domestic airline industry, there is lots of competition in the River cruise market, with a dozen or more fantastic options.  Viking would be wise to embrace the U.S. based travel advisor as their primary distribution channel, because, quite frankly, they are.”


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