Crystal Cruises outlines its plans for the future at annual sales gala

The ultra-luxury line unveils new approaches and improvements as it reveals that revenues in 2019 have already exceeded last year’s. Sam Ballard reports



Ultra-luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises hosted 56 travel agencies at its annual Sales Gala last month, on board Crystal Serenity, for a sailing from Lisbo
n to Dover.

All of the agencies had made at least $1 million in Crystal bookings, with 24 having made more than $2 million.

Crystal’s entire senior team was present for the event, with most of them presenting at some point during the conference sessions, including Tom Wolbar, the line’s CEO & president.

During his session, Wolbar revealed that the company’s revenues in 2019 had already exceeded 2018’s total, but insisted that his priority was to “stabilise the business overall”.

“Our numbers are growing,” he explained. “But, if you think you are the best, then you are probably not. It’s all about doing better with our guests and better with our partners than ever before.”

Addressing the company’s key agents directly, he added: “We now have three full years of itineraries available across all experiences, which are available for booking. That helps maximise our ability to all be successful.

“You are the first one of the many personal connections we have with our guests.”

Carmen Roig, Crystal’s senior vice president of marketing and sales, ran through the numbers for each individual Crystal brand – highlighting the difference between new to Crystal and past guests.

Crystal Yacht (Crystal Esprit) has the highest factor of new guests (66 per cent) followed by river (58 per cent). Ocean has more past customers travelling, with 58 per cent of passengers on either Serenity or Symphony being members of Crystal’s past passenger programme, Crystal Society.

Revenue was up across the board with ocean increasing by 10 per cent, river 12.5 per cent and yacht 31.4 per cent.

Roig also unveiled Crystal’s new marketing campaign, which is going for a mature approach under the strapline “where luxury is personal”.

Kari Tarnowski, vice president of marketing, Crystal Cruises, expanded on the concept by outlining the profile of a Crystal customer as someone who is 55-64, has an average household income of more than $150,000 and assets of more than $1 million.

However, the difference is “more than affluence”, Tarnowski explained, with 66 per cent of Crystal passengers typically spending more on their holiday than other affluent travellers and 76 per cent of them prioritising experiences over other affluent travellers.

Interestingly, Tarnowski also revealed data showing that Crystal customers welcomed direct mail – and as such the company had changed its strategy to maintaining mailouts throughout the year, rather than having peaks and troughs.

The company also revealed that its internet speeds would continue to increase – becoming eight times faster in 2020 than it was in 2017.

Susan Robison, director of global communications, told delegates that the company was banning plastic straws on World Oceans Day – which took place on June 8 – and that it would be making further announcements about reducing single use plastics in the coming months.

Walter Littlejohn, vice president & managing director of Crystal River, revealed that the company had been looking at plans to expand into France, but that there would have been too many smaller suites, and the cruises would have been too long – moving away from the formula that the company has found on the Rhine and Danube. However, he did tell agents to be patient, hinting that announcements regarding new ships were on the way.

There were no announcements about the company’s much anticipated Diamond class, which is due to launch in 2022.

Sam Ballard

Sam Ballard is the publisher of CRUISE ADVISER and has been writing about the cruise industry for a number of years. His CV includes the likes of shipping magazine International Cruise & Ferry Review and the digital publication Cruise News. He can be contacted on:sam@cruise-adviser.com.

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