MSC Cruises is celebrating the launch of its 2009-2010 brochure by repeating its “Sail for £1” offer.
Under the deal, which first ran in December last year, the first passenger pays the full brochure price and the second sails for £1. Children under 18 travelling in the adults’ cabin also sail free.
The offer runs from April 4 to 20 and applies to cruise-only bookings, includes port dues for both passengers and applies to all ships in the new brochure except for MSC Opera sailings out of Dover and MSC Yacht Club bookings.
The deal is part of a basket of promotional devices which also includes an unlimited drinks offer – one for soft drinks and one for alcoholic beverages – which can be pre-booked with the agent who gets 10% commission.
The cruiseline has also slashed the deposit to £50 on all traditional departures and to £150 on transatlantic sailings as part of the promotions.
The promotion, which may run three or four times a year, is a response to consumer needs and concerns during the recession, and an alternative to the deep discounts that are rife in the market later in the booking cycle, explained MSC Cruises UK and Ireland managing director Giulio Libutti.
“It is highlighting value for money and is for the customer who wants to know how much their holiday will cost before they book,” said Libutti.
The company also believes the promotion will discourage late bookings: if the best deals are offered early on, then customers will book earlier.
“The market has become accustomed to late bookings but it is not very good for people who buy at full price. We believe the customer deserves respect,” said Libutti.
The cruiseline is also focusing more on group bookings. “We have increased our groups department. Groups book a lot more in advance so we are looking to offer an even better service.”
Libutti also announced a new web promotion, Deal of the Day, which offers incentives such as upgrades if bookings are made within 24 hours. “Even without advertising it is already boosting sales and it can earn agents commission,” said Libutti.
Libutti acknowledged there was a slowdown in the market – in August last year the cruiseline was receiving 1,000 calls a day, now it is getting 500 – but bookings are healthier now than they were this time last year. “If I look at he same month, March, in 2007 bookings are 120% higher this year,” said Libutti.
MSC Cruises Magical Sensational Cruise 2009-2010 brochure, downloadable at msccruises.co.uk, highlights new itineraries including North America and South America and two new ships. MSC Spendida launches in July this year in Barcelona and is sister ship to MSC Fantasia, both with passenger capacities of 3,959, and MSC Magnifica which launches in March 2010 in Germany with a passenger capacity of around 3,000.
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