Crystal invests in APAC as region eyes top 3 source

Australasia sales more than double that of the former operation

A&K Travel Group is forecasting Australia and the Asia Pacific region will be the reborn Crystal’s third-largest source market, and may go even higher.

Speaking with LATTE aboard Crystal Serenity last weekend in Europe, Debra Fox, Managing Director, A&K Australasia and Executive Vice President, Trade Sales APAC for A&K & Crystal, says Crystal’s share of global sales deriving from the region is currently more than double that of the old Crystal.

“The ships are filling, and at an increasing pace,” said Tony Archbold, Vice President of Sales for Asia Pacific. He says the way the trade has responded to Crystal’s return is a testament to the brand’s reputation, despite some advisors being hurt emotionally and financially under the previous owners.

Tony Archbold, Crystal's VP of Sales for Asia Pacific and Debra Fox, MD A&K Australasia/EVP Trade Sales APAC A&K & Crystal.

Subscribe to LATTE Cruise’s free eNewsletter to keep up to date with everything in the luxury cruise space.

“We went to market in late January/early February with a very soft launch. Marketing didn’t really commence until May,” Archbold said. The former Seabourn chief for Australia said the creation of a new call centre in Melbourne is going to generate a “huge boost” for the APAC market.

Fox says A&K’s top brass has supreme confidence in the region and are investing significantly.

“They understand that APAC is really well placed based on the previous organisation’s results. They are giving us everything we need. They believe we will be the number three market in the world,” she says.

“We will achieve that…absolutely. We believe it too. In fact, we want to give number two a bit of a nudge,” Fox said confidently.

Crystal’s long-standing primary markets are the US and UK/Europe.

Crystal Serenity docked in Naples, Italy with Mount Vesuvius in the distance.

Fox says Australasia is punching above its weight, and the success so far with new bookings for Crystal has been achieved without making a concerted push locally.

“I believe that’s a result of the delight that Crystal is back, pent-up demand, the trust factor and confidence in the local team,” Fox said, adding too that the acquisition by A&K has also played a part to some degree.

The confidence Fox refers to relates to “integrity” and the 140 years of joint travel experience amassed by the collective of A&K/Crystal’s executive team locally – Fox herself, Archbold, Michelle Mickan (VP Marketing A&K and Crystal Australasia) and Susan Haberle. Last month, Haberle was promoted from Head of Sales and Partnerships, A&K Travel Group to VP Sales & Partnerships, A&K APAC.

“I don’t think any of us would support anything that we didn’t believe in,” Fox said.

“With Tony as a cruise champion, Susan as a land champion – the way they work together is incredibly flexible and there’s so much commonality and shared opportunities.”

Debra Fox with Fernando Barroso de Oliveira, Crystal Ambassador.

The difference is they now have joint responsibility, not individually, but as a team, Fox explained. “Tony and Suse worth together to make sure A&K Travel Group as a whole is successful, and that we’re working with the right partners.”

Tony Archbold and Debra Fox, flanking Michelle Mickan, Vice President Marketing A&K and Crystal Australasia.

Archbold says everyone who knew and sold Crystal previously, “loved it, but the distribution was not delivering on the potential”. A key focus in the immediate future will be to have a dedicated Crystal team in place before Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity arrive in Australian waters this coming cruise season, to enable frontline sellers to see the hardware firsthand.

Meanwhile, Fox feels that Crystal is one of luxury cruising “best-kept secrets”.

“The product delivery has blown my expectations out of the water and how incredible it is,” she told LATTE of her first impressions of the luxury line. “There’s nothing like it, and I knew the potential for A&K in the market was massive, and now that’s what we’re able to do – we can do it with Crystal at the same time,” Fox said of the product integration with Abercrombie & Kent on the land.

“We’re going to continue to build to be quite extraordinary in the industry,” Fox remarked.

“We have A&K, the DMC network, our touring, plus the Sanctuary products (lodges, ships), the Galapagos, ocean cruising – the way that those brands can operate independently but at the same time integrated, to offer very unique products, for consumers its obviously great but more so for travel partners because they’re the ones who deal with the one-stop shop.”

“How that’s going to come together and evolve is so exciting,” Fox said.

Lead image: At a Virtuoso gathering in the Palm Court of Crystal Serenity are: Robyn and Murray Sinfield, Home Travel Company; Irene Lee, GM Asia, Virtuoso; Tony Archbold, Crystal; Debra Fox, A&K Travel Group; Melinda Gregor, Gregor & Lewis Bespoke Travel; with David Brandon and Liam Jarman from Savenio.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

WP to LinkedIn Auto Publish Powered By :