P&O Cruises has said that the number of pre-registrations for its next ship, Iona, increased by 100 per cent compared to Britannia, based on both ships’ opening days.
Iona goes on sale on September 12.
“Yesterday was the first opportunity that guests, through both travel agents and direct, could actually pre-register their booking requirements for Iona,” Paul Ludlow, the line’s senior vice president, said. “With the trade support that we’ve seen, we are in really good shape.”
Ludlow added that the decision to no longer add a daily discretionary service charge to guests’ bills had also proved to be popular.
People ask where we will find the customers to fill our new ships and the answer is through our travel agent partners
Iona represents P&O’s biggest ever capacity increase, with 5,200 guests, adding to the importance of first time cruisers for the company. Britannia’s capacity in comparison is just 3,500 guests.
“Finding new to cruise guests is integral,” Ludlow said. “This is a huge capacity increase for P&O Cruises and while we have a tremendously loyal customer base, we need to find new to cruise customers to fill our ships in the future. Two out of three guests repeat but we need that constant flow of new customers coming in to the market.”
Ludlow added that travel agent support was crucial to filling P&O’s future fleet – which will increase by 50 per cent with Iona and a second new ship in 2022.
“People ask where we will find the customers to fill our new ships and the answer is through our travel agent partners,” he said.
P&O’s agent reward scheme, the Shine Rewards Club, which launched in December, currently has 11,500 members and has given away 2.5 million points.
Alex White, vice president of sales and distribution for P&O, said: “We have always said that Shine Rewards is much more than an incentive programme. It is a loyalty and engagement programme. From the start we said that Shine is the place to find out about Iona and our launch first.
“Having one place to direct agents to, and being part of Shine Rewards gives them exclusive access. In a month we’ve had 3,000 modules completed, which is unprecedented compared to last year.”