Virgin Voyages “transforming the way of doing business”

LATTE chats with CCO and newly appointed Associate VP - International

• Travel advisors key for Virgin Voyages’ success  |  •  Travel the World are innovators
Scarlet Lady completes first sea trials |  • New “Sneak-A-Peak” sailings

Strong relationships with the trade are viewed as the backbone for success of start-up cruise line, Virgin Voyages, says its Chief Commercial Officer Nirmal Saverimuttu.

At a celebration event for front-line sellers in Sydney last week hosted by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, Saverimuttu referred to travel advisors as “a major part of our business globally.”

“That’s why we called them First Mates, because they really are the captain’s right hand,” Saverimuttu told LATTE at the event.

Richard Branson with Spencer Travel Group of Companies' General Manager, Tina Killeen (right) and Spencer Travel Eastside's Heather Del Vecchio.

“Way back when we put our policies together, we went out globally and we spoke to travel agents and First Mates around the world and asked them what are the things you don’t like, what are things that prevent you from selling, what are the things that would allow us to be a better partner to you?”

“We then went through that list and we ticked off as much as we could, and NCFs (non-commissionable fare) being a huge part of it; paying on everything which no one else does,” Saverimuttu (lead image, left) said.

Virgin Voyages’ newly promoted Associate Vice President – International Sales,  Shane Riley, reiterated that NCFs were one of the “pain points” travel agents have had to deal with “forever”.

“I spoke to one lady during our Australian showcase who has been in travel for 40 years. She told me ‘I have been moaning about the same thing for decades and now finally someone has come along and done something about it’. And that’s a really fortunate position that we can respond to. To be able to listen to that feedback and actually transform the way of doing business.

“We’ve committed to bringing an epic ‘Sea Change’, and the epic Sea Change in the first place is to make their job as easy as we possibly can,” Riley remarked.

“So we eliminated non-commissionable fares and we made sure we paid on everything,” added Saverimuttu.

The CCO said he was hopeful First Mates would recognise the investment Virgin Voyages was making with travel advisors, “and in return they will go out and sell this product”.

virgin-voyages-dock-house
A sneak peek at The Dock House, onboard Scarlet Lady.

GSA feedback

Meanwhile, Riley heaped praise on Virgin Voyages’ local GSA, Travel the World (TTW).

“They have been amazing. They are a brilliant partner,” Riley said when quizzed by LATTE on the partnership.

Last month’s national roadshow to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast pulled an audience of 1,000 travel advisors. TTW organised the events to be held in cinemas where the enormity of what Virgin Voyages is bringing to the table can be viewed on the big screen.

“They did and amazing job of hand-selecting incredible First Mates that they thought would be a really good fit for us.

“The great thing about Travel the World  is that they are innovative and think outside the box. And they’re creative in what they are doing, so rather than holding a typical training session, we hired cinema venues because Scarlet Lady looks incredible on cinema screens. We don’t seem them as Travel the World. We see them as Virgin,” Riley added.

But wait, there’s more

And in separate Virgin Voyages’ news,

    • Scarlet Lady commenced sea trials in Europe last Friday 15 November, and after several days at sea has now docked in Marseille, France (pictured below); and…
    • Branson’s cruise line has confirmed two pre-inaugural sailings of Scarlet Lady have been scheduled ahead of the 1 April 2020 maiden voyage. The three-night “Sneak-A-Peak” sailings (below) are planned for 26 March and 29 March and will include visits to the Beach Club at Bimini, a Scarlet Night Party, and access to all restaurants and entertainment onboard; and…
    • Virgin Voyages has revealed an adjusted schedule and teased with the potential name for its second ship, the soon-to-be officially named ” _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Lady” which will enter service in May 2021 (below).

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