Royal Caribbean International will maintain 2020 commission levels throughout 2021 and 2022, Vicki Freed, the line’s senior vice president-sales and trade support & service, announced in her weekly Coffee Talk webcast with travel advisors.
“We want to support you,” she said. “You are key to our success.”
Freed gave travel advisors the rare opportunity to ask questions of her guest (and boss) Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Fain good-naturedly took questions about cruising’s return to service as the pandemic eases, what the new normal will be, why refunds and cruise credits are taking so long, and how travel agents are vital to the industry’s rebound.
When asked about the resumption of cruising – the company also extended its suspension through July 31 – Fain said it will most likely be phased in with reduced capacity on ships. “We do expect the comeback to be gradual, very much like the opening of our communities,” he said. “In the beginning, we will probably limit capacity, just like local restaurants are.”
He declined to specify new screening, sanitation and cleaning protocols, saying he wanted to wait until the entire process is finalized since the situation keeps changing.
But he agreed that serve-yourself buffet lines will probably end, at least in the beginning. “The idea that you go into a buffet and everybody reaches in and touches the same tongs, we’re very likely not going to see that on land or at sea,” Fain said. “We might have it when all of that is served to you by other people, among other possibilities.”
But new procedures eventually be embraced, much as the world accepted new screenings and ID checks at airports after 9/11. “After 9/11, all of a sudden, we had to undergo a strip search at the airport, and we couldn’t take a bottle of water on the plane. Our whole world changed,” he said.
Eventually, “we were all back flying again,” Fain said. “Airplane travel didn’t end; in fact, it grew. But it evolved so it isn’t the same. We do get security checks and identity checks. Frankly, we’ve become accustomed to it, and technology made it easier. The same thing will happen on cruise ships.”
As for delays in processing refunds and future cruise credits, Fain said the company’s system that usually “works smoothly” was overwhelmed by the sheer number of requests.
“The volume simply exploded. A very nice system that works for a volume of X doesn’t work with a volume 50 times that. We simply weren’t prepared for it,” he said.
Complicating matters was the increased number of employees working from home. He said the process is improving but is “still not as fast and efficient as we would like it to be.”
When cruising operations begin to crank up again, travel advisors will be a vital piece of the recovery process. “In the world there’s still a lot of confusion about Codiv-19 and what it means, so their role communicating that to their clients is even more important,” Fain said.
That’s why educating the agents is key. “In order to educate the public, they have to have the information themselves. Not only do we need the best procedures and protocols to ensure a healthy return to service. … We need to educate the travel advisors so they can educate their clients.”
Comments & Discussion
Uniworld’s ‘Heroes Among Us’ European Cruise Giveaway Open for Nominations
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is inviting its travel advisor partners and River Heritage Club Members to nominate the “unsung heroes” of their communities for a chance to win a free, seven-night European river cruise.
25 honorees will be selected by the Uniworld executive management team to receive their complimentary cruises, which consist of one stateroom for themselves and a guest on any seven-night 2021 or 2022 Uniworld, or U by Uniworld, European river cruise (excluding Portugal).
MORE Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
“In these extraordinary times, Uniworld would like to celebrate the unsung heroes who make it possible for us to be home because they aren’t,” said Uniworld CEO, Ellen Bettridge. “We want to express our eternal debt of gratitude to these essential workers who are keeping us healthy, in body and spirit: the doctors and nurses, bus drivers and mail carriers, delivery people and grocery clerks, volunteers and first responders who have forged on despite their risk.”
Uniworld’s past guests and travel advisor partners are encouraged to enter on behalf of an exceptional everyday hero who, according to Bettridge, “has left a lasting impression by putting the needs of their community first during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
Nominations are being accepted online now through July 31, 2020, and the winners will be notified by August 5. Simply fill out the form with your nominee’s name, and their occupation or role in the COVID-19 response efforts, as well as your reasons for nominating them. You can also upload a photo or video to make your submission stand out.
For more information, visit uniworld.com/en/heroes-among-us/.
Comments & Discussion
American Airlines Plans to Suspend All Regional Operations out of Miami
Republic Airways Furloughs Over 300 Employees
Alaska Airlines Donated Over One Million Meals to Charity
American Airlines Retires 5 Aircraft Types
Cruises2 weeks ago
Royal Caribbean To Eliminate Buffets on Post-Coronavirus Cruises
Airline News2 weeks ago
Missing Airline Food? You Can Order It To Your Home! (Yes, Really!)
Airline News1 week ago
Mexican Airline Offering Unlimited Flight Packages
Airline News1 week ago
Delta Resuming Several Major US and International Routes in June