We check in with Amanda Darrington, sales director for UK and Ireland, to find out more about Royal Caribbean’s wave deals and the return of Independence of the Seas
How important is wave?
Last year’s wave was a really interesting time for us: we found that 49 per cent of passengers who booked during that period were under 50 years old, so five years under the industry average. Of those bookings, 31 per cent were families – a big increase year-on-year. We also saw an increase on new-to-cruise guests, including new-to-cruise families. That’s absolutely perfect for us. When we think about the actual family demographic we attract, we’re thinking about how they travel: they want something for the whole family to enjoy. It’s shore excursions, West End theatre, restaurants – all those elements. It doesn’t matter how old you are, there will be something appropriate for you.
How well has AirWaves done?
We launched the new booking platform in November and the idea is that agents can book cruises, flights, hotels and transfers all in one place. We ran our trial with 350 agents and this pilot group took 2,000 bookings. The national roleout was on November 23, and we’ve had 17,000 searches carried out on there already. Fifty per cent of bookings made have been fly-cruise packages, which is exactly what it’s designed to do. On average, it’s taking less than 10 seconds for an agent to get prices for a cruise, flight, hotel and a transfer. We’ve now trained 7,000 agents across the UK and Ireland – and we’ve got more training to come. It’s up to us to now get more agents exposed to it.
What’s new with My Club Royal?
We’ve relaunched My Club Royal, which is now a one-stop portal for agents to access bookings, training, rewards and sales materials, including AirWaves. We’ve put everything in one place. If you want to interact with Royal Caribbean, then go to My Club Royal and we will be able to give you everything you need. We’ve obviously still got the Club rewards, which has been an industry-leading incentives programme for a while now. At the end of last year, we had 15 lucky agents on our Welcome to Miami trip, which included a four-night stay at a luxury hotel and a visit on Harmony of the Seas. That’s how we like to reward our most loyal agents. Club Royal now has more than 12,000 agents. We’re always trying to innovative and be creative and make sure we stay ahead of the rest of the industry.
What can you tell us about Symphony of the Seas?
It will be the world’s largest ship and will be its spending first summer season in the Mediterranean, before respositioning to Miami in November. It will arrive in Barcelona in April next year. It allows us to bring the idea of what Royal Caribbean looks like in the modern world to the UK customer.
And then there’s Independence back in the UK…
It’s our most popular ship for UK guests, and is coming back, revitalised after a makeover. There’ll be fish and chips, the Playmakers sports bar, plus the Splashaway Bay with waterslides!
Book before March 5 2018 for Buy One Get One Half Price fares, plus 25 per cent off third and fourth guests on selected sailings of six nights or more departing between April 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 across the fleet.
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