Chris Austin is the Senior vice president of global sales and marketing for Seabourn.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN YOUR CURRENT JOB AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ROLE?
I joined Seabourn in January 2017, in time for the naming of Seabourn Encore. The cruise industry has enviable momentum, so joining the world’s best ultra-luxury cruise brand realised a dream for me.
HOW IS YOUR COMPANY DIFFERENT TO OTHER CRUISE LINES?
Thirty years ago, in 1988, our founders were at the forefront of innovation and were the first to launch an ultra-luxury small ship that focused on the best service on board and exceptional experiences on shore. We continue this today with authentic experiences, unique destinations and personalised service. On a Seabourn ship, space is generous. There are no crowds. Guests’ names and preferences are noted. Wishes are granted, before they are spoken, by a crew that borders on clairvoyant.
IF AGENTS ONLY SELL ONE SEABOURN ITINERARY THIS YEAR, WHICH ONE SHOULD THAT BE?
We are very excited about several new itineraries but one in particular is our 15- day Iceland & North Cape Quest cruise that explores the spectacular scenery and wildlife of Iceland and Norway. Departing in June from Reykjavik, Seabourn Quest will sail up the coast of Iceland to visit a few more Icelandic ports and will then cross the Norwegian Sea to the North Cape and call at several charming towns and ports along the beautiful coast of Norway before ending at Copenhagen.
CAN YOU GIVE US A DESCRIPTION OF THE TYPICAL SEABOURN CUSTOMER?
Seabourn guests are some of the most interesting, accomplished people you could meet. They like to travel in style, and they like the ultra-luxury hotel ambience. They are curious and seek rich, immersive destination experiences, along with a highly attentive on-board service. That is why our two worlds, on board and on shore, are equally important.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING CRUISE SALES?
I like to view challenges as opportunities. How can we continue to grow the business and introduce more travellers to cruising?
There are many opportunities for travel professionals to land potential luxury cruise clients. The guest demographic on luxury cruises is varied – retired, singles, busy professionals, and multi-generational groups. Explore the type of holiday a non-cruiser normally takes and how their requirements can be matched to a luxury cruise.
HOW DOES THE COMPANY WORK WITH THE TRAVEL TRADE?
Travel professionals are pivotal to us. Our guests rely on their skills and expertise to craft the best travel experience. We rely heavily on our partners to help tell our story and share the Seabourn differences. We are proud of our partnership with travel professionals around the world, and we work at it. We must be accessible, responsive and provide the right suite of tools to make doing business with Seabourn easy. We have sales teams in the UK and other markets around the world to support top line revenue growth. Our team is a world-class, committed and passionate sales organisation often regarded as the best in the business. Seabourn Academy, our complimentary, online course for travel professionals, is packed with insights, techniques and tips from the most successful sellers of luxury travel in the world. I’d love to invite our travel professional partners to join our webinars and training hosted by our team of sales professionals. We’ll also be increasing the opportunity for our loyal partners to see our ships with ‘Lunch and Learn’ invitations, when the ships are in key ports around the world.
TOP THREE TIPS FOR AGENTS SELLING CRUISE…
1 Focus on a cruise line’s unique offerings and become an expert by embracing the training resources that are available. For example, our on-board programme, Ventures by Seabourn, enhances guest designation experiences.
2 Propose that life events, such as birthdays and anniversaries, are celebrated by taking a luxury cruise. Travel professionals should become part of their client’s journey when they are booking a holiday.
3 Let clients know about the on-board booking programme. There is no better time for a guest to book their next adventure than when they are on board, immersed in the experience and having a fantastic time.