Sean Treacy occupies the hot seat as Royal Caribbean’s new managing director of Singapore and Southeast Asia based in Singapore. An experienced senior executive, Mr Treacy has been with RCL for nine years in various management roles overseeing revenue management and global deployment. He talks enthusiastically to Asean Cruise about his new role hardly three days into his new role.
- SE Asia is growing significantly in cruise. What do you see as the challenges facing Royal Caribbean in the region, and what will you be doing to grow its market share?
Southeast Asia is a less mature cruise market when compared to Australia, nonetheless we are making great strides in the growth of consumer and trade awareness and the interest in cruising since Royal Caribbean started deploying ships out of Singapore over seven years ago. Our task now is to build on this momentum and continue to leverage the fact that we bring the most modern innovative cruise ships to South East Asia. For our business to grow further in the region we will continue to focus on building up the distribution network and accelerating the development of port and cruise tourism infrastructure to support larger ships. We need to diversify itineraries to maintain people’s interest in cruising. We will continue to build greater consumer and trade awareness for cruising in the region with our marketing campaigns, engage airlines partners to drive more airlift in key markets particularly during congested peak travel periods, participate actively in trade events and engage trade partners and CLIA in travel agent training, while advocating on cruise port development with the appropriate authorities.
- Do you believe SE Asians are a different kind of cruise community, and if so what are their particular needs?
Asians tend to favour multi-generational family cruising which is a perfect fit for our brand Royal Caribbean International as we offer a wide range of activities for all in the family. They also prefer shorter, port-intensive cruise itineraries that suit their vacation pattern in general, as well some degree of product enhancement in language assistance, cuisine and entertainment for instance, which is what Royal Caribbean offers for its Asian fleet.
- SE Asia is both a destination and a source. How would you see the balance of these two? CLIA, for instance, often described it solely as a destination. How has that changed?
There is a number of ports with great tourism potential across Southeast Asia waiting to be developed or upgraded today, as are the cruise markets here which are still largely in their infancy. We have long recognised the potential in this region as a source market since operating regular cruises here seven years ago. The huge success with our larger Voyager Class and Quantum Class ships in the recent years underscores the growing appetite for cruising in this market. With the arrival of these larger ships, it is the ports now that urgently need to catch up to handle the increased ship size and passenger load.
- What will Royal Caribbean be doing to help the new CLIA SE Asia train travel agents in the cruise product? What does Royal Caribbean do presently to help train agents?
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s international e-learning program ‘Cruising for Excellence’ is for its travel agents worldwide. It encompasses its three brands – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises – and in a number of languages.
Highlights include interactive, virtual graphic ship environments that allow browsers to explore and learn the key selling points of the ships, almost as if they were onboard; and 3-D virtual environments that include ‘real’ people to create a feel for cruising. We also conduct training in a variety of other ways, such as:
- In-house seminars: For agents’ managers and front line staff.
- Group product updates and seminars: For our regular agents who are more or less familiar with cruises in general and our brands. We highlight the updates on our brands.
- Seminars-at-Sea: We host these seminars on a variety of ships and itineraries every year for product exposure and familiarisation and as incentives for the top producing agents.
- Ship tours for product familiarisation.
- Royal Caribbean has considerable presence in Singapore – do you see any further deployments in the region for any of the RCL brands?
Royal Caribbean International has been homeporting in Singapore since 2007 and we are continuing to grow this brand’s presence in the region – we have planned our Singapore deployment till March 2017 with the Voyager Class Mariner of the Seas, and we are bringing the second Quantum Class ship – Ovation of the Seas – to the region next June for a couple of sailings that are bound to create even greater attraction for cruising among vacationers here.
- Who do you see as your biggest competitors? Does the investment in Star Cruises – along with Norwegian, Regent and Crystal – signal a rise in Asian business interest in the cruise industry?
As a cruise company our largest competition is still from the traditional fly-and-stay holidays as we try to differentiate ourselves as a novel, convenient vacation option that is great value-for-money with highly inclusive packages. Our challenge is to continue to educate trade and consumers on the exceptional value and benefits of cruising.
- How do you see the influence of the Chinese market on SE Asia? Obviously, there is considerable growth and more to come. How do you view the influence of a strong Chinese market on cruise in the region?
The Chinese are among our top three overseas guests on our Southeast Asian cruises. We usually enhance our onboard offerings in Asia to better cater to our Asian guests in terms of language assistance like in announcements, signage and having more crew fluent in Asian languages, cuisine and entertainment. At the same time, our core products which are international and family-friendly in style greatly appeal to all our guests including the Chinese.
- There has been much made of Chinese only ships. Do you see Asian cruisers as demanding their own ships or can multi-national cruises continue to thrive in the region?
We are not seeing such demand in Southeast Asia yet and our ships’ international style of cruising and guest-mix has a strong appeal to a wide spectrum of guests in our region.
- Will you take up Jennifer Yap’s position on CLIA SE Asia and how do you view the work of that group: as a lobbying organisation and as a training group.
I am very interested in taking an active role in CLIA SE Asia. CLIA has played an essential role throughout the world with training agents and we are still in the early stages of developing the cruise market here in SE Asia and I really value that CLIA provides in training and educating the community on the economic benefits the cruise industry provides.
- Why do you think Royal Caribbean has been so successful in the Asian market? is it the new ships, the style of cruising?
Both. Royal Caribbean International is renowned in the market as a premium brand with innovative, family-friendly, international-style and yet great value-for-money offerings that has a wide appeal. From the start, the concept of our ships as true destinations on their own with the amazing collection of first-at-sea amenities changed the perception of consumers in Asia which made our cruises very popular among them. We also keep redefining the cruising experience in Asia with larger and more exciting ships every one or two years, starting with the Voyager Class and most recently the Quantum Class, which is creating a new wave of excitement for cruising among vacationers here with the next generation cruise experience.
- Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the job and what you would like to achieve in the region?
I am really excited to be working in Southeast Asia. The potential for cruise is tremendous, we have a lot of work to do but the team here in Singapore is outstanding and we have very strong support from our travel agent partners. I have found that those are two key winning ingredients for success in this business.