Convincing the 20 million Britons who are ‘indifferent’ to cruising to spend their holiday on a ship is the biggest challenge facing the industry, according to Royal Caribbean International’s UK boss.
Speaking on a two-day cruise from Southampton on the new 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas, UK managing director Stuart Leven called on the industry to sell the concept of a cruise before focusing on brands.
He said: “We have amazing ships but the hardware is not enough. We have a job to do convincing people to cruise. The message needs to be first the experience, then the brand. The market struggled to come out of recession and is still selling on price, not value.”
Leven said Royal Caribbean is dropping last-minute discounts and instead will reward early bookers with benefits such as free drinks packages and gratuities.
As eight out of 10 Royal Caribbean bookings come through the trade he is also putting more focus on agent education. The UK sales team has doubled from four to eight this year so they can make more regular calls on the trade.
A new loyalty scheme for agents who have achieved Admiral status in the company’s training programme rewards bookings with cash.
Anthem of the Seas was recently named in Southampton by godmother Emma Wilby, a Thomson travel agent from Scotland. It is sailing from Southampton until October, when it relocates to New Jersey.