“We created this ship to satisfy a multi-generational family,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, during a press conference aboard the new Symphony of the Seas.
After spending two days aboard the largest ship currently sailing the ocean, I have to agree with Bayley. There is something for everyone on board the Symphony: From a carousel for the kids, to Playthings, the onboard sports bar—for those who want to catch the game—to fabulous live shows, a comedy show, a zipline, multiple slides, and THE Ultimate Family Suite complete with a slide from the kids room to the living area, a gaming area, a jacuzzi, and much more. Oh, and let’s not forget the Royal Genie that comes with the suites, and makes sure your client’s every wish is granted. Have a foodie client? There are more restaurants on board than your client will be able to dine in during their 7-day sailing.
So, if you’re wondering who the perfect client is, well Vicki Freed, senior v.p. of sales, trade support, and service, Royal Caribbean International says, “Lots of different clients, but our sweet spot is the multigenerational family with kids, or grandparents with kids. We can really cater to the family market, but also to the luxury family market such as the grandparents funding it or the parents who want to be in a luxury suite.”
Freed adds, “We have the unique combination of quality and energy. The biggest wow out there in the vacation industry. People feel they get a great ROI on their vacation dollar. People don’t come off [the ship] saying they over paid, they come off talking about the great memories they created. When they get off talking about the experience, you know it’s a home run.”
How to Sell the New Ship?
With no shortage of new ships at sea, how do you position this new grand sail to your clients? “Feel comfortable selling larger ships,” points out Freed. “One misconception people think is that there will be lots of lines. Always have your clients do our online check-in. This way they won’t have any lines when getting on board.” In our experience, Royal Caribbean’s new terminal at PortMiami eases the boarding process—there are practically no lines—and as Richard D. Fain, chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., put it during the ship’s christening, “Our goal is less than 10 minutes from car to bar.” We can confirm that the boarding process is rather seamless—a quick stop at the counter (with no lines), had us at security check-in in less than five minutes.
On board we also didn’t experience any lines. The array of dining venues made it easy to just pop in for a pre-dinner slice of pizza, or a soup and sandwich for lunch with no wait time.
More Support for Agents
“We are expanding our sales team—we have the largest amount calling face-to-face,” says Freed. “We want travel partners to use local representation that we’re giving them, and we’re happy to meet with you for an early breakfast or after their full-time job.
“We want to get more people into this business. We believe that travel agents do the best job at really articulating what Royal Caribbean stands for. They become the value interpreters for the consumer. Booking a cruise can be a little complex, it’s a little confusing. And if you’re asking a consumer to just book direct, unless they know what they want, it’s hard—we have 49 different categories on this ship. That’s a lot of categories. It really takes someone who is an expert to articulate why this particular room might be the better accommodation for you.”
Royal Caribbean International: cruisingpower.com