Mediterranean cruise line MSC has unveiled a comprehensive package of changes to help the company reach 200,000 UK passengers by 2017.
The ‘Serving You’ programme, which is aimed at changing the way MSC works with UK travel agents, covers commission and marketing payments, improved account management, increased on-the-road sales support and clearer and better targeted promotional campaigns.
The company is also launching a new MSC Book sales platform, online training platform and telephone system for its UK call centre.
MSC Cruises executive director UK & Ireland Giles Hawke said: “We have made no secret of our desire to become a significant player in the UK cruise market – ‘Serving You’ signals our intent to make the trade our top priority.
“Our aim is to reach 200,000 UK passengers by 2017 – more than trebling our current level of business. We can only do that by engaging with agents and putting them at the heart of what we do.”
The company unveiled the list of changes at the first meeting of its newly formed Travel Advisory Board, a body made up of ‘key agent partners’, according to a company statement. The board will meet up to four times a year.
“Our ‘Serving You’ programme represents a huge investment. There will be a bigger sales team managing our relationships to bring our brand closer to agents and give them all the help they need to sell. The focus is on developing stronger and deeper ties with the trade, and we have looked at every area of our business to do this.”
The MSC Cruises ‘Serving You’ programme in full
- For 2015 the MSC Cruises sales force in the UK and Ireland will DOUBLE in size
- A 20-strong field sales team – MSC Ambassadors – will be deployed across the country to support key sales periods and campaigns
- A restructured sales operation will ensure each sales channel has its own specialist team – maximising returns for agents of all sizes
- MSC Cruises will share certain booking and sales data with key accounts, allowing agents to see how customers holiday and allow them to focus their marketing efforts
- MSC Cruises rolls out its customised onboard experiences onboard from November, giving agent a sales option for all potential clients. With Bella, Fantastica, Aurea and MSC Yacht Club Experiences, there will be an MSC cruise to satisfy all budgets and customer types
- MSC Cruises will support efforts to drive early bookings with a clearer promotional campaign structure. Best deals and upgrades will always be available for early bookers, making pricing easy to explain to customers
- Tailored commission payments and targeted marketing funds that meet the needs of all business models
- Rewards for generating growth
- Commission on MSC’s shore excursions
New Flights Programme
- Dedicated charters from 2015, serving six Mediterranean ships from Genoa and Venice
- Dynamic packaging flight system using GDS airlines to make MSC Cruises easier to sell
Investment in technology
- Huge infrastructure improvements including the new and bespoke B2B booking system, MSC Book. The system is also a marketing resource, with downloadable collateral including adverts, flyers, images and video
- Improved UK call centre telephone system sees calls routed to the relevant expert automatically
- New e-learning programme, MSC Expert
- Greater emphasis on MSC Cruises position as market leader in the Mediterranean – highlighting wide range of destinations, embarkation ports, itinerary choice and durations
- Secured space and lowest prices in return for commitment from retailers
- New Net Rates partnerships available for 2015