The new boss of Seabourn has challenged agents currently not working with the brand to explain why, in the hope his team can encourage them to do so in the future.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast just days into his new position at the helm of the luxury line, Josh Leibowitz said he was keen to know why agents might not be working with Seabourn.
Leibowitz was appointed president of Seabourn last week, having been senior vice president of Cunard in North America as well as chief strategy officer for the wider Carnival Corporation.
He described agents as a “lifeline” to the brand, adding that he believed the cruise industry was being “more thoughtful and generous” than any other travel sector because of how important trade business is to cruise lines.
He said: “[Agents are] the lifeline to the brand. The travel agent community – they’re like owners, they’re owners of the brand because they have a sense of connection to Seabourn. They have confidence that if they put their guests on the brand the guests will have a great time. Ultimately, their business is a renewal business, so they want to make decisions that is going to lead those guests to come back to them and book the next vacation.”
When asked what he his message was to agents who haven’t yet booked a Seabourn cruise, he said: “My message is simple – why not? I encourage partners listening to send in the reason why they haven’t.”
Leibowitz said the UK was a “critical market”, adding that he saw growth opportunities to expand the line’s UK bookings.
“I was speaking with a Cunard colleague and I said to that individual, ‘don’t you see a greater opportunity to expand the UK market, given the incredible set-up of consumer segments.”
Leibowitz believes the industry to overcome the current fear factor of those not wanting to travel in the short-term, and he said it was important for it to be addressed.
“Having said that, I think fear is a now moment, and not a future moment,” adding that he believes the industry will bounce back.
He said another challenge was for the cruise industry to get a greater “share of suitcase”.
“One of the things we try to instil in people’s minds is that our competition is not with each other in our corporation or not the other cruise lines,” he said. “We are all in a shared pursuit of people’s time and spending your precious vacation time on the ocean, exploring the world, seeing new places and meeting new people is a form of travel.
“Our real broader approach and one of the phrases I use in my strategy is the concept of share of suitcase.
“People are going all over the world – they’re going to go spend a week in London, they might go to Paris, but everything’s a trip type – and so is ocean travel.
“And the reality is our industry is still quite tiny compared to all the other trip places – so it’s a matter of helping people to focus on differentiated customer segment and proposition, which is one of the reasons why I love the Seabourn brand because it’s so different as a proposition.
“But if each brand has that swim lane – then we can all collectively do terrific.”
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