River cruise company Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced its move into UK trade sales following the continued popularity of the market. The high-end cruise operator, which is part of Insight Vacations, Trafalgar Tours and Contiki owners Travel Corp, launched the product to trade on Monday and is working with the Association of Cruise Experts (ACE) to generate awareness. “We have just done a big mail-out to cruise experts inviting agents to get in contact with us and we are more than happy to help them with training or information,” Paul Melinis, head of UK trade sales for Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection told Travel Daily. “Also as an incentive, any booking made by the end of September will be entered into a draw to win a cruise for two”. In addition, the company’s flagship S.S Antoinette is to be docked in Amsterdam for ACE’s river cruise expo, which will be attended by 150 UK travel agents. Melinis added that although it will be promoted by the team behind One Stop Touring Shop (Insight, Trafalgar and Contiki’s trade arm), Uniworld will be kept separate from the touring specialists. “The reason for this is that it is a cruise product and we want to raise the brand name and product as Uniworld,” he explained. However Melinis said the separate names should not stop agents selling Insight Vacations and Trafalgar Tours together with the cruises. “The message is that those who book One Stop Touring Shop can get in contact with their sales team and start [to sell Uniworld]”.The ship’s style emulates its sister company the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and so creates what Melinis describes as ‘five-star floating boutique hotels’. Explaining the reason behind the trade entry, Melinis said the decision was a no-brainer after looking at the river cruise growth. “Uniworld has been selling in the trade for five years but through a partner and different name,” he explained. “In 2010 we started to direct sale as Uniworld and noticed river cruising is the fastest growing sector in the industry, with ACE saying sales are up 8%. Direct sales were going so well that we’ve introduced Uniworld into the trade market. The interest from agents has been phenomenal and they are keen to get involved”.