Farriek Tawfik: new ships and ports, and how agents can increase yield from Princess

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In this exclusive interview with Farriek Tawfik, Director of Southeast Asia for Princess Cruises, tells ASEAN Cruise News about the brand’s growth, what’s new for 2019 and how agents can increase their yields.

Princess is a premium brand. How are Southeast Asians responding to it?

Things have worked very well for us here. We get lots of loyal repeat customers. Our past passengers are called Captain Circle members − we have almost 20,000 of them here. They come whenever we hold events and want to know about new ships. These experienced cruises will also bring first-timers.

What’s the profile of a typical Princess cruiser? And who are you targeting for 2019?

The general age for Asian cruisers is 45 years (based on CLIA figures). Ours is around there but with a growing number of millennials. We’re also targeting cruisers from other brands and more first-timers.

We’ve got new ships such as the Sky and Enchanted Princess, another Royal Princess ship in 2022 and two LNG-class ships in 2023 and 2025. All this exciting stuff will be promoted in the region.

Speaking of new ships, how will this grow the market for Princess?

Those familiar with the Princess experience will want to go onboard a new ship, but with Princess’ quintessential service and new hardware. Our customers demand innovation, so the new ships will create a lot of demand.

What can you tell us about the new Sky Princess and its features?

The Sky Suites are great. They have the largest balconies on any cruise line, and the cabins face the ship’s Movies under the Stars screen. There’s also a new jazz bar and more Jacuzzis.

The OCEAN Medallion is now launched on Caribbean Princess, what do cruisers have to look forward to with this new wearable device? And when will it arrive in our region?

It’s like a key card. You can sync it with your phone, order food or use it for fitness. And it’s free for you to take home.

Regal (which was fitted with the device last year) will be heading to Australia in 2020 and passing through here, so the first OCEAN Medallion ship will be here in 2020.

Any new Asia itineraries and ports lined up? And which of your routes is proving most popular?

Japan is popular − Diamond is there the whole year. The international market is supporting it a lot. Another popular route is Shanghai to Japan on Majestic, especially for fly-cruisers.

We’re also looking at new ports in Taiwan and talking to the Malaysian government about opening up the east coast (e.g. Terengganu and Pahang).

Which countries are providing the most growth?

Malaysia is growing well because of Taiwan and Japan cruises. Malaysians don’t need a visa for those countries now. Singapore always provides stable growth, with more experienced cruisers who know what they want.

If you were talking to a travel agent, what would your message be about Princess in 2019?

To sell a cruise, you must know your customer. Agents should know what kind of service each cruise offers, and match customers accordingly. The worst thing is to put your passengers on the wrong ship, then they’ll say they never want to cruise again.

For Princess, agents should know about our new ships and new itineraries. For example, we have the Solar Eclipse cruise coming up in December. These cruises have unique, longer itineraries agents can push and get more commissions from. We send info directly to customers via EDM blasts, so they expect agents to be updated.

Can you tell us about agent incentives? Anything new for the year.

What I can say is there’s more yield if they sell a fly-cruise package. They make commissions not only from us, but from airlines tickets and travel insurance. We also do trainings, co-ops and joint road shows to help our agents.