When Azamara Club Cruises president and chief executive Larry Pimentel declared unequivocally on stage at the Clia Conference last week that there was way too much capacity coming into the luxury cruise sector – and too fast – there were a few audible gasps.
When he went on to say the inevitable outcome would be discounting and consolidation among the smaller lines, many in the room were quite taken aback by such honesty.
He also stated publicly for the first time that such a climate had made him rethink his previously concrete plans for a third ship and said Azamara would be sticking with the two it has for the time being and letting everyone else fight it out.
It was a refreshingly frank assessment and one that is worth noting by agents, who have previously been urged to make the most of the high prices, commission rates and satisfaction levels on offer in the luxury cruise sector.
Pimentel warned that anyone selling a “standard” luxury cruise would be dragged into the minefield, with customers shopping around for the cheapest agent.
He told delegates that Azamara was improving its yields each year by constantly differentiating its cruises from those of rivals.
And, like other speakers at the conference, he urged agents to have the same mindset – to be innovative, creative and personal in their own approach to ensure that what they offer their clients is not only bespoke, but can’t be copied – and then discounted – by rivals.
Those who don’t take heed of his advice could find themselves caught up in his predicted cruise sector price war.
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