Virgin Voyages reveals details of agent portal

Virgin Voyages reveals details of agent portal

Virgin Voyages’ global sales and marketing portal for agents will go live this autumn, bosses have revealed.

Firstmates.com is due to launch on November 1 and will be “the place where travel partners can go to learn about the product, get marketing support and materials and make bookings”, according to vice president of global sales and business development Stacy Shaw.

Speaking in London, ahead of the Clia UK cruise conference in Southampton this week, Shaw said the site was currently being developed and would also include a training facility.

She said: “Our cruises will go on sale by the end of the year but we want to get our partners really excited about what’s coming and about selling our product before then.”

Former P&O Cruises director of trade engagement and onboard sales Shane Riley started his new role as director of UK and international sales for Virgin Voyages this week.

Riley is tasked with educating the trade about Virgin Voyages and getting as many agents to sign up to the portal.

He said: “I’m looking forward to going out to travel partners and listening to what they want from us to make us a spectacular company to do business with us. I want to hear what they have to say.

“We are in such a unique position to build something with agents’ input into our whole journey.”

Shaw said getting agents to understand the product and concept was key.

“We need to create a new category. We don’t think of ourselves as premium or luxury. We’re not going to be like any other cruise brand so we need something different, rather than putting ourselves alongside others,” she said.

“We need to find the right terminology – a bit like when Virgin Atlantic created Upper Class. It wasn’t first or business, but it stood for something different – it was its own category – and now everyone knows what that means and the experience you get,” she said.

Shaw said Virgin Voyages is being inspired by CitizenM hotels, The Standard in New York, Soho House and Ace Hotels.

Shaw said the announcement that Virgin Voyages’ first ship, due to enter s‎ervice in 2020, would be “adult by design”, had “overwhelmingly had the most positive reaction from travel partners”.

“It’s not just that there are no under 18s on board, it’s the fact that the entire ship has been designed with adults in mind, that is exciting everyone. They all can’t wait to sail on her,” she said.

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