Fain rallies advisors to “rebuild” as internet cruise bookings surge

"We need you," Royal Caribbean Group CEO tells travel advisors

Royal Caribbean Group CEO and Chairman Richard Fain has used his latest, and what he expects to be final, COVID update to the trade to encourage travel advisors to win back cruise bookings.

Fain said the company, which includes high-end cruise brands Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, had witnessed increasing numbers of direct bookings.

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“We’re seeing more visitors to our website and we have more calls and more bookings coming to us. [There] is no question about it, it’s encouraging,” the cruise industry leader said.

“But there are some important signs buried in all these numbers, because the surge is coming more from the internet than it is coming from our travel advisors. It’s understandable in the near term – people got used to buying things online during the pandemic – and they’re continuing to do so as the shutdown ends.”

Celebrity Edge, coming to Australian waters in 2023/24

Fain told advisors now is the time to “rebuild”, while noting many agencies had cut back on staff and marketing during the pandemic, and they remain hesitant to invest in people and advertising until they see a return in “dollars coming in”.

“But the dollars won’t arrive until you make the necessary commitment to attract those dollars. Online bookings are attractive, but we need you – our travel partners – to reach our full potential.”

“Travel advisors need to do more of what you all do so well,” he said.

“Of course, there still will be many who prefer to buy online, and the internet does make that very easy, but it was the personal contact from travel advisors that built up the knowledge and awareness in the first place. It was the expertise of the travel advisors that gave people the impetus to cruise. It was the information that you travel advisors provided that gave people the confidence to buy a cruise,” Fain declared.

“Simply put, we need you and we need your personal touch.”

“We need you and your knowledge. And the clients need you to help them understand the complexities.”

Fain encouraged travel advisors to reach out to their clients, including those holding a Future Cruise certificate “and inspire them to plan their cruise now”.

“We’re counting on you, and together we will all move forward to a brighter future,” Fain concluded in his update.

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