Irish Travel Trade News chatted with Ben Bouldin, Director of Sales UK & Ireland for Royal Caribbean, about his role at Ireland’s leading cruise company.
What attracted you to take up your role at Royal Caribbean?
I have been Director of Sales, UK & Ireland at Royal Caribbean for just over two years now and in large part it was my love for travel that initially drew me to the role. Royal Caribbean has a team of inspiring people, wholly committed to driving the innovation and growth that will take the industry to new audiences. With every day being different, and in many cases extraordinary, it is a really exciting place to work.
What elements do you enjoy the most about the cruise industry?
It is hard to beat the launch of a new ship, and we have been very lucky to welcome two new pieces of hardware to our fleet over the past two months. Just last week we launched the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, and a few weeks ago we also welcomed Ovation of the Seas. Both ship launches also saw the introduction of Royal Suite Class, our new luxury offering for guests seeking a world-class getaway, including 24/7 service from a Royal Genie.
One of the most exciting aspects of the cruise industry is the ambition of those that work within it. We are very passionate about making cruise holidays the most popular choice for holiday makers, through investment in innovation and by spotlighting the amazing experiences that guests can have on a Royal Caribbean holiday.
How is Royal Caribbean different to other cruise lines?
At Royal Caribbean, everything we do is about offering our guests experiences that will blow them away and give them something to brag about. As such, we are the pioneers of many firsts at sea. Whether it is wowing guests with the tallest slide at sea, Ultimate Abyss, or thrilling them with breath-taking destinations, we offer a playground of incredible experiences onboard 25 of the world’s most innovative and spectacular ships.
Plus we know that everyone’s ‘wows’ are different. So whether they are after a new adventure, a luxury escape or something that suits the whole family, our ships have the activities and features to fuel every appetite and create stories to tell over and over again.
How does Royal Caribbean work with the Irish travel trade?
The trade are critical to our mission of appealing to a wider audience and we work very closely with them to make sure that we give them the very best insights and tools so that we are set up for mutual success.
Our award-winning e-learning programme Cruising for Excellence (CFE) provides travel agents with a realistic onboard experience to better equip agents to sell to all types of holiday makers. Also, our industry-leading reward and recognition programme for travel agents, Club Royal, is open to all Irish travel agents achieving ‘Captain’ status on Cruising for Excellence. We have seen this go from strength to strength and now have over 400 Irish members, with this figure increasing every month.
We also understand the importance of agents being able to experience our ships first hand and were very excited to welcome our Irish trade partners onboard both Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.
Why should agents sell cruise rather than a land holiday?
I strongly believe that cruise gives people the benefits of a land-based holiday but with so much more to offer. The scope of facilities onboard our ships, such as world-class dining and entertainment, exceed those you would get on land, and where else do you get the opportunity to wake up in a new city or even country each day?
What should agents focus on when selling a cruise holiday?
All agents have their own tactics for selling cruises, but my top tips are:
- To have enough knowledge to highlight the differences between cruise holidays, in order to highlight how there is a cruise to suit all tastes and budgets. This means understanding the differences in brands, ships, features and destinations for each of the different cruise lines.
- Take time to work out what is important to your customer. Is it all about the destinations? Is the food or entertainment a key selling point? Are they looking for a relaxing holiday or something a bit more active? That way you will be able to better pinpoint the perfect holiday for them.
- Spotlight the value of a cruise – the fact that you can experience multiple destinations in one trip combined with an incredible array of adventures onboard too. Where else would you get prime seats to a West End show included in your holiday?
- Do not wait to be asked for a cruise. It may not be on people’s immediate shortlist but cruise holidays should be included in the same conversations as land-based all-inclusive resorts. They offer such a range of holiday opportunities that people will likely be surprised by what they hear.
- Always try to use your personal experience and passion about cruising to convey the fun and playful aspect!