Royal Caribbean’s top leaders talk agent training, bigger ships and targeting millennials

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Royal Caribbean’s growth in Asia over the last few years has resulted in bigger and better ships sailing the region. And its strength in the market has seen the promotion of Josh Wen, head of sales Asia Pacific.

ASEAN Cruise News spoke to Mr Wen and the Managing Director of Royal Caribbean in the Asia Pacific area, Angie Stephen,  about the direction for the brand in 2019.

Mr Wen currently heads up 15 markets in Asia, and has been with Royal Caribbean for the past three and a half years. He was previously in trade strategy and management with the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry.

Josh, you will be expanding your role to cover the Singapore market, what new responsibilities will this entail?

Josh: This role itself is not just taking on one more country, but creating synergy amongst the markets that I manage. Every market’s culture is different, so each will have different good practices that can be shared across.

I’m particularly excited to work with Singapore’s trade partners. Singapore is a very important regional hub for cruising. That means trade partners selling our cruises are also very important.

How do you think the Southeast Asian cruise market has evolved so far, and what’s the future of cruise sales like?

Josh: The cruise market here is growing at a very fast rate − that’s why we also see many other brands coming in. We are also investing more resources and creating synergy for further growth.

Angie: In Singapore, we’ve been known for short cruises, but with Quantum we are growing the market and bringing in bigger ships. That’s going to grab the attention of a new audience, and give the travel partners something new to talk about.

We’re also expanding the length of cruises. As the market matures, people want to go on longer cruises, and not have to board an airplane to see exciting destinations in Europe or the Caribbean. With Quantum, we have the opportunity to do a longer itinerary. We’re even introducing 9 night cruises going from Singapore to Hong Kong. I think that’s how the market is maturing.

Where are the big markets for RCL currently?

Josh: Singapore is our top market this year. Other big markets are India, Indonesia and Malaysia. We’ve done lots in terms of collaboration, investment and expanding distribution.

What will RCL be doing to help agents sell cruises?

Angie: That’s part of Josh’s new role. In addition to expanding to Singapore and creating a unified focus on travel agents, we are adding training to the portfolio. In order to grow, we need to link up with travel partners and train agents in evolving their selling skills.

Josh: There’s no one single formula. The key is a customised experience − working with travel partners individually. Travel partner training is pivotal. We are engaging sales trainers that will help our partners. Travel partners (across many industries) tend to sit in our comfort zone and just sell what’s popular. But training is not just about selling, but qualifying potential guests and giving them what they want.

Lastly, what is the brand doing to target young millennials and Asian families?

Angie: We’re launching a new campaign in late spring that will have a fun social aspect. In terms of family, we have the ultimate family suite in Spectrum. With Quantum, we have the loft suites and great activities like iFly. Your 5 year-old can do it and your 90-year old grandma can do it (yes, we do have grandmas!).