P&O seeks six agents to be ambassadors for its new ship.

Travel Weekly talks to Alex Delamere-White, P&O sales and distribution vice-president, about its trade competition heralding the launch of Iona.

Q. Why are you launching the Iona Insider competition through which agents can become ambassadors for P&O Cruises’ new ship Iona?
A. P&O Cruises is inviting agents to become an Iona Insider so that they can become immersed in the ship and the Norwegian fjords, where Iona will sail in its maiden season. Six travel agents will help tell the Iona story over the next 18 months before it launches in 2020. Iona sailings will be going on sale on September 10 and pre-registration will open on September 3. This milestone is something that agents and passengers have been waiting for. This is revolutionary compared to what we have been doing in the past. It’s an incredible opportunity for agents.

Q. What do agents need to do become an Iona Insider?
A. Agents must submit a creative and innovative video entry on the Shine Rewards Club website about why we should pick them to be an Iona Insider. The competition [launched on August 10] is open to all Abta registered agents who are registered on Shine Rewards Club, our loyalty rewards scheme. Agents can learn about everything to do with Iona on Shine. There will be tips on there about how to submit the best entry. The reaction has been amazing since we launched the competition. People are really excited.

Q. What will it mean to be an Iona Insider?
A. The six winning agents will be part of what we are offering through Iona over the next 18 months. We have yet to finalise the dates, but in October we will take the Iona Insiders – once they have been to chosen – to Norway. The trip will be about immersing them in the fjords and making them feel part of the whole journey. As Iona is built over the next two years, we want the Iona Insiders to be inspired, so that they not only sell Iona but also go back to their agencies and inspire their colleagues. It is not just a competition. This incentive is about generating excitement and knowledge about Iona and everything surrounding it.

Q. Will there be ambassadors for future P&O Cruises ships?
A. This is a campaign that relates only to Iona. It is a new concept that we have not done before. We have done a competition where agents could win a place in a TV advert starring [comedian] Rob Brydon, but this competition is central to launching Iona successfully.

Q. What is the message of the Iona Insider incentive for agents?
A. The winning agents are going to be part of the Iona journey. They are going to experience the fjords, attend VIP events and see how the ship progresses – and there will be a few surprises along the way. The winners will also get a sailing on Iona in its maiden season. We are looking for agents who are really passionate about selling holidays but we want people who very much want to be part of the Iona story. We will not be judging them on how they look in front of the camera but on how they demonstrate how they want to be part of this exciting story.