Regent ups the ante with trade, partnerships, alliances

LATTE chats with Steve Odell, Chief Sales Officer, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Back in Sydney for a final time before uprooting to Miami on a more permanent basis in the coming days, Steve Odell, Chief Sales Officer for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, sat down exclusively with LATTE to discuss further his new responsibilities and objectives, the opportunities that lie ahead, and how partnerships remain paramount for the luxury cruise line.

Flung back into the industry limelight in late January, pulled out of retirement with his re-appointment at Regent at a more senior level and on a global scale, Odell says the role and responsibilities have been a “big step up”.

“You tend to look at the world a bit differently than you did before,” Odell says. His new position sees him responsible for all sales channels.

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

“Having a global remit has already been a strong advantage for the business. We are looking at all the channels and seeing how we can share best practices.

“Having a seat at the table looking at all sales channels and with global knowledge and network is a new strength for the business.”

As Chief Sales Officer, Odell reports directly to Andrea DeMarco, President, and his direct reports include Shawn Tubman, SVP of Sales, North America and Caroline Smith, MD International – all colleagues Odell has long histories with.

September 2022 - Steve Odell with Regent Seven Seas Cruises' colleagues, Lisa Pile, VP Sales & GM for Asia Pacific and Andrea DeMarco, President.

“It’s been a smooth transition as I know a lot of the people already, and I know the brand, plus we have an excellent team around the world.”

“We talk as one, as a group of people, and what I’m already seeing is that we are sharing a lot more between the markets,” he said. “Not that we didn’t before, but the CSO position allows us to coordinate better for different markets and different approaches. We are now sharing a lot more intel.”

“Understanding the flavour of the market and what is working, or not working, is a big advantage,” he said of the role.

Odell says that while the business continues to go from strength to strength with the addition of the Explorer Class ships, “now we need to focus on lifting business to the next level.”

“What are we going to do next because you can’t always do what you always did. We’re looking for new opportunities. And not to forget our expansion in 2026 and 2029 with two new 77,000 gross tonne, 860 guest brand new ships, announced this week.”

Trade

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Elevate program for travel advisors is the cornerstone of the trade drive. The platform launched in North America last year and rolled out in Australia/New Zealand in February.

“Elevate is focused on upping the game on travel advisor engagement.”

“For any agents who have yet to look at it, I would encourage them to do so. It provides information on where to source the customer, how to market, the most successful strategies we take as a company – all of which can be replicated by travel advisors.

The Degrees available through Regent Seven Seas Cruises' RSSC University

“Plus there are lots of incentives wrapped up when engaging in Elevate, such as shipboard credits that can be earned to use for clients once you’ve completed certain modules of training. There are booking incentives, client incentives – arming salespeople around the world with nuances for different markets. That has been one of the bigger projects.”

New market strategies

A large part of Odell’s action plan is centred on attracting customers from outside the cruise bubble.

“That’s been a big part of the last few months. How do we talk to luxury hotel customers for example, and how do we sell to them? There’s been a lot of work carried out in that space.

The new port-intensive itineraries, bundled under Regent’s ‘Immersive Overnights’ branding were foreshadowed exclusively by LATTE in December and officially launched in late January.

Odell says Regent has been communicating and educating advisors on the difference of these new Immersive itineraries, and how to sell them to clients. For example, the Asia itinerary includes two- or three-days in each of Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Osaka.

Couple in Kotor ©RSSC

He said Regent is pitching the concept to reach high-end land-based tour operators, suggesting these voyages as another way to experience those cities, but with the crucial difference being the client only has to unpack once, and eliminates flights between cities and constant packing and unpacking.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work in that space and it is paying off very well.”

“We’ll add a seventh itinerary for 25/26,” Odell revealed to LATTE, “because the other six already in market are doing really well.”

Odell confirmed Regent Seven Seas Cruises will bulk up the number of Immersive Overnights itineraries in the 2026/27 program with new destinations.

The program will be expanded deeper into Europe and Northern Europe, primarily because the distances between “hallmark cities” are shorter. Itineraries could include locations such as Helsinki and Berlin, he suggested, with itineraries in the collection a maximum of 10 days duration, and ports close to each other to prevent too many sea days.

Prime 7 Steakhouse, Seven Seas Grandeur

Partnerships

Since his return to the luxury cruise line, Regent has also raised the stakes on its partnerships, the latest being an alliance with Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team.

“The Aston Martin partnership provides Regent with global reach, building on the worldwide footprint of Formula One, alongside the popularity of the cult Netflix series centred on the drivers, Formula 1: Drive to Survive.”

“What we’re dipping into there is an all-new market so we are generating a healthy number of new leads.”

“Leads in that volume are not that easy in partnerships/relationships. This [however] has been very successful. That’s a potential new business,” Odell adds.

Among the benefits for Regent of the Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team arrangement are paddock tickets to the F1 races which could be used for travel agent incentives and sweepstakes. Some of which are already underway abroad. On the consumer side, there are storytelling opportunities, as well as Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand awareness on F1 vehicles and the driver’s racing suits.

“There are limitless opportunities, but there are two core elements. One is about growing the database, and the other is about brand awareness in these very high-profile events.”

GHA (Global Hotel Alliance)

Odell is also excited about the prospects which are still to be fully unlocked through Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ partnership with GHA (Global Hotel Alliance), which was introduced in July 2023 during his short-lived retirement.

GHA comprises 38 hotel loyalty programs around the world including the likes of Kempinski, Capella, Viceroy, Corinthia, The Set, The Leela, Anatara and more. The network has a database of 24 million people, and Regent’s deal provides a database exchange program.

“We’re really upping the ante” on the arrangement, Odell said.

The Set Collection, Paris

The pact will see any existing members who book a Regent cruise automatically achieve Titanium Membership with GHA. Members also earn Discovery Dollars when booking a voyage.

“Essentially it’s about exchange of clients and making clients aware, targeting each other’s top clients.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity in growing our potential sales base leads through GHA,” he said.

“We’re thinking laterally and getting out of the box. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

“We have to have sales teams in place around the world ready to capitalise on all the growth. We can’t exclusively depend on the pool of past guests. The real initiative is to entice first-time guests and get them engaged and repeating their experience.”

Consortia partners

Globally, Regent Seven Seas is aligned with the three biggest leading travel consortia groups around the globe including– Signature Travel Network, Virtuoso, and Travel Leaders.

“These are very smart essential sales and marketing partnerships. We do a lot of work in all sorts of areas with them and preferred status is very important to us.”

In Europe, it’s reassuring to see the growing influence of Serendiapians and the expansion of Virtuoso. There is a big opportunity for those who invest.”

“We are eager to explore how we can expand our distribution further in other parts of the world. I believe there’s a lot of business to be won in Europe, but the distribution is rather different and a limited number of organisations control the luxury space. Whereas when I look at the models in Asia Pacific and North America, there’s a far more spread-out distribution and bigger focus to marketing through the consortia.”

Steve Odell with Alex Sharpe, CEO and President, Signature Travel Network aboard Seven Seas Grandeur's christening cruise in December 2023

“It’s more traditional and perhaps even a little conservative in Europe and with a few exceptions in the DACH markets, few control luxury.”

“We must tap into the high-end non-cruise market in Europe – skiers and safari takers, yacht charters. These are the kind of travelers that we need to get to. We can provide the right support to reach these segments and sell our value and experience proposition.”

Luring new trade partners

“Getting new luxury travel agents onboard, and getting their minds on the value proposition of cruise is a big strategy for us,” Odell explains.” That’s easier in some markets than others because the channels allow it. For instance, there are a lot of tour operators specialising in land-based programs that haven’t explored cruising, so we’re looking at those businesses around the world.

“There are a lot of opportunities in that space, to branch out further. The Immersive itineraries have been a help, as we’re hooking people into the fact that you’re not on a cruise for nine nights and you visit eight places. You’re on a more meaningful, in-depth look at four places.”

“We’ll continue to rely on the old, tried-and-tested interactions of face-to-face, events are a massive part of selling luxury.”

“I think here in Australia the team has mastered that perfectly. We concentrate on the right times of year, classy events in the right venues, the presentation is very slick, but we know that’s what drives the volume.”

Partnership event example between Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Travel Associates - Lisa Wright, TA and Elsa McLean, RSSC, in July 2023

On the subject of volume, Odell says on the local front its key for Regent to drive early business and getting as far ahead of the booking curve as possible.

“This market still has the highest daily rate. We want to ensure that we have the right promotions in place, the right materials in the market to make sure we drive that early booking curve at the highest price, and the highest price means more commission for the travel advisor. It’s a win-win partnership,” he concludes.

Odell has been commuting between Sydney and Miami since January. He and partner Jay are expecting to relocate to the cruise capital of the world in the next week or so.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

WP to LinkedIn Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com