Luxury river cruise line Uniworld’s brave attempt to create a new brand for millennials is now enjoying growing bookings – thanks to the realisation that age is really an attitude of mind.
U by Uniworld set a 21-45 age limit on passengers boarding its two black-painted millennial ships, A and B, when they launched earlier this year.
The ships were loaded with millennial “influencers” from the Instagram generation who produced enormous amounts of content like the video below.
It was all designed to attract a completely new generation of passengers to river cruise. But the people who contacted Uniworld’s Sydney office wanting to book were…well…not quite millennial.
“We realised being a millennial was really an attitude of mind,” says Uniworld’s MD Australia Fiona Dalton.
Today, the average age is 30-55, and Gen Xers are appearing on the floor of the silent disco and jumping on the adventure bikes. But the good news for this courageous experiment is that their interest has validated a fleet and shore excursions that are new and exciting.
Uniworld has always been unique. No-one has ever accused the line of being bland or beige. Over the top décor, luxury amenities and brilliant ships has made Uniworld among the world’s best river cruise operators.
And Uniworld doesn’t do things by halves.
“We worked very hard for a year-and-a-half before launch on U by Uniworld and we decided a gated age community was the right way to go,” says Ms Dalton, who admits she would have been outside the age range herself.
“We settled at 21 – 45. But then we simply realised there was demand for this product outside of that age range.
“By the end of February, we had to make a decision whether or not it was right to continue with the gated age. We decided we should make it an adults only cruise – and lift the gated age restriction.
“I’m really proud of the way we did it. We were honest. We have not deviated from the product, but now our average is 30 to 50 year olds – meaning gen Xers as well as millennials.
“Now its open to all ages, consumers are able to ‘self diagnose’ if this is the experience for them.”
The result: a steady rise in bookings.
It helps that U by Uniworld is at an affordable price point: $2,299 for seven nights including a shore excursion every day, and half board of brunch and dinner for instance.
A Scenic cruise of the same duration is almost double ( though admittedly, Scenic is all inclusive).
Ms Dalton believes social media has had a huge effect on the brand’s success.
And some of the activities that are unique to U by Uniworld – like paint and wine – are now included in the price. Others, like blowkarting on the sands in Holland – a huge adrenalin rush as you travel up to 50 mph in a three wheel land sailer – are typically millennial.
The decision to change the age range was taken at a round-table where all executives from around the world
“We had experience here in Australia where the market was telling us that being millennial wasn’t necessary a demographic but was a state of mind. It was a psycho-graphic.”
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