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NEWS SPECIAL REPORT


Princess Cruises hosts 300 agents on new ship Sky Princess. Harry Kemble reports from Trieste


Agents help grow Princess sales to more than 20%


A


gents who dynamically package tours with Princess Cruises sailings have played a major role


in growing the line’s year-on-year sales by more than 20%. “Agents acting as tour operators”


were applauded by Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice-president for the UK and Europe, who noted many were adding tours and land-based stays in long-haul destinations, such as Japan, Hawaii and Australia. He said: “We are seeing travel


agent business grow and then the tour operator business grow within that. Te people that appear in our top-10 travel agents are those engaging in both sides of the business. Tere are


very few [agents] who do not have that in their business model.” Despite a “challenging” market,


Roberts said: “Our plan was to trade between 10% and 20% up and we are currently more than 20% up. We are feeling prety good.” Princess hosted its largest-ever


overseas trip for UK agents when it flew about 300 from Manchester, Dublin and London to stay on Sky Princess. Te ship sailed from Trieste to Athens for its shakedown cruise last week and unveiled its new Sky Suites for the first time. Te two 1,873sq ſt suites have


270-degree wraparound balconies so passengers can watch films on a giant screen in the pool deck area


without leaving their suite. “We are keen to get as many


travel agents to see how the Princess product is evolving,” Roberts said. “It’s been a huge commitment.” Te UK is the line’s third-biggest


source market aſter the US and Australia. Roberts said: “Puting something together like this really shows our commitment to the UK trade [and] we are really pleased with the support”. Next year, Princess will increase ex-UK capacity by more than 30% compared to 2019, before


‘Work to do’ to promote Ocean Medallion


Princess Cruises still has “a bit of work to do” to promote its Ocean Medallion technology to agents and their customers, the line’s guest experience boss says. Te 3,660-passenger


Ocean


Medallion bracelet


Royal-class ship is the first in the Princess fleet to be built with wearable Ocean Medallion technology. It allows passengers to order food and drinks, locate family and friends on the ship and navigate onboard. Asked if agents who had not experienced


12 24 OCTOBER 2019


the technology understood how to promote it to customers, Princess’s executive vice-president of guest experience and product development, Rai Caluori, said: “We still have a bit of work to do. We have got to do a beter job of landing on those concepts that are accessible for the agents who have never


experienced it, so they can relate it to the guest. “We’re doing a lot of work in that dimension.


Most importantly, Ocean Medallion is going to create a frictionless vacation experience.”


Sky Princess. Inset: Sky Suite


hiking it further in 2021 by deploying three ships in Southampton. “We are really confident that the UK will continue to be a great market for us,” Roberts added.


R


AGENTS’ VIEWS


Gerald Buck, ROL Cruise “Using Ocean Medallion [technology]


makes me feel like I could not go on another ship. The technology is incredibly intuitive.”


Anna Perrott, Travelbag “I like the fact that you can watch a film from


the comfort of your balcony in the Sky Suite. You are away from the hustle and bustle. I love how Ocean Medallion is hands-free.”


Gilly Markham, Travel Counsellors “It’s very relaxed and the staff very attentive.


Not needing a key card for the room is cool. The magnetic strips on cards often go when they come into contact with a phone.”


travelweekly.co.uk


facebook.com/pg/ travelweeklyuk/ videos


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