Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) doesn’t call travel agents travel agents. It doesn’t call them travel advisors either. “They are travel partners, and they are critical to our success,” says NCL president David Herrera.
Karryon is reporting live from aboard Norwegian Viva for its post-christening cruise to the Bahamas. Onboard with us are several hundred travel agents and they’re getting a lot of love from NCL leaders.
Before the champagne hit the hull, in a speech acknowledging all those who helped NCL get to where it is, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. president and CEO Harry Sommer acknowledged the trade. They were treated like VIPs because to NCL, that’s what they are.
“I can’t emphasise enough the special partnership we have with the trade community, our travel agency friends who are critical to our success, particularly as we continue to grow our fleet to provide more opportunities for our guests to enjoy the offerings of our unique brands,” he said.
“As many of you know, in an earlier life I ran a high-end, cruise-only travel agency. So I personally know the value that the trade community brings, and I’ll use the vast resources of this company to make sure that our partners are set up for success.
“Simply put: we will win together.”
Where everyone’s a winner
At a press conference this morning, NCL president David Herrera used the same ‘winning’ analogy and he likely did so because the value of agents must be a regular refrain at NCL headquarters.
“We cannot win, we cannot meet our goals without our travel partners. This industry in general and NCL specifically is seeing a capacity increase that needs all channels to contribute. And one of the things about the travel partner community is they over-index new-to-cruise. And that’s what we need.
“If you’re going to increase the size of the industry you need new blood, new guests, new markets coming in. You need demographics to continue to move in the direction that they have recently. So we 100% rely on our travel partners for our continued success going forward.”
But it’s one thing to say agents or ‘travel partners’ are important, it’s another to act on it.
Herrera says that NCL’s reliance on agents has led to it making several investments in platforms such as Norwegian Central.
“These platforms are built and designed specifically to provide our travel partners with the creative and the collateral they need.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” he said.
“The only way you’re going to continue to succeed with travel partners is you have to have a dialogue. You have to listen. It’s got to be a partnership and you’ve to know what they want. They’ve got to tell you what you’re not doing right. It’s got to be okay to have a conversation. What is it that we need? How do we work together?
“We’re good now. But we’re only going to get better. Our north star, our goal, is literally to become the easiest cruise line to do business with travel partners. And we’re aiming towards that.”
Love for Aussie agents
Damian Borg, NCL Director of Sales for AUS/NZ clearly got the memo about the importance of agents.
“Our commitment to our travel agent partners is unwavering,” he told Karryon.
“The trade community is immensely valuable to NCL and we are working side-by-side to set agents up to grow and thrive, since when they succeed, so do we. It’s a unique relationship, and one we will continue to nurture as our brand continues to gain momentum in the region.”
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