‘We still have a lot of cruises to sell, so don’t forget about 2009.’ — Gregg Michel, Crystal Cruises
On Crystal cruise, getting top producers back in the groove
By Rebecca Tobin
ONBOARD THE CRYSTAL SERENITY —
Bill Smith, senior vice president of sales for
Crystal Cruises, had just gotten started on a
morning presentation to a roomful of top
retailers when he loosened his tie and reknotted it around his head like a bandanna.
As the music in the Crystal Serenity’s
Hollywood Theater was cranked up high, he
shouted: “We’re going to get up and dance!”
And sure enough, he bounded off the
stage to boogie in the aisles for a few minutes with Crystal’s top-producing travel
agents, who were gathered in the theater
— and who by that point were out of their
seats, laughing and dancing.
Crystal always makes the annual Gala
Cruise a big event with its top producers,
who need to book $750,000 in sales the previous year to qualify. Nineteen of the agents
on the cruise came from agencies that
booked more than $2 million with Crystal
As much as 2008 was a success story, 2009
is a different animal altogether.
Smith put the retailers in a lighthearted
mood by keeping them laughing at some
outlandish antics like the dancing. (“OK,
we’re all smiling,” he said as he returned to
the stage. “That’s good. Keep doing that.”)
But that didn’t mean the line’s executives
weren’t focused on making the best of a
rough 2009. The luxury market is in a tight
spot as customers compare mailings and offers, trade down and pull back on the number of vacations they take.
Aboard the Crystal Serenity, Crystal Cruises Senior Vice
President of Sales Bill Smith lightens the mood.
A new era begins, as five of the world cruising fleet’s biggest and
best head for home at Port Canaveral.
Join us in welcoming them…and be transported to new heights
of service, new vistas of experience and a whole new level of
For additional information and a FREE Cruise & Pre-Post Vacation
Planner, visit www.portcanaveral.org/tw
And competition in the luxury cruise
market is fierce.
During the three-day session, executives
spent a lot of time talking about Crystal’s
competitive response to the marketplace:
It’s giving customers an onboard credit of
$1,000 per person ($500 for cruises of seven
days or less), on top of its 2009 Celebration
Fares (to be called Anniversary Fares once
the line hits the 20th anniversary of its first
cruise, in 2010) and a price-protection guarantee.
Smith noted at the beginning of the seminar that the line had seen a lot of booking
churn. But he added that even if bookings
weren’t sticking, it meant that upscale cruisers were out there and thinking about cruising — they just needed a nudge from their
travel professional to commit to the trip.
“The good news is, there’s interest,” he
During the meetings, the line’s top brass
used the phrase “permission to travel” or
“permission to cruise” several times — in
other words, that clients need to be reassured that it’s OK to take a vacation in the
current economic climate. Smith told the
agents here that it was important that they
provide prospective clients with a reason
why they should feel comfortable booking
Crystal President Gregg Michel also reminded the sellers that “we still have a lot of
cruises to sell. … So don’t forget about 2009.
“They’re waiting to book,” he said. “
Everyone’s delaying purchases. I do it, I think
we all do it. But people want to spend. We
have to get the psychology turned around.”