Bookings for Oceania Cruises’ 2023 and 2024 sailings are at “record levels”, an achievement the cruise line’s sales and marketing chief says is due to tight partnerships with travel advisors, strong customer loyalty and continued marketing investments through the years of travel disruption.
In an interview with TTG Asia this morning, Frank A Del Rio, chief sales & marketing officer with Oceania Cruises, said: “We have never in our 20-year history been booked so far ahead at this point in the year for the following years. We are realising the benefits of all our efforts during Covid.”
Earlier on May 5, Oceania Cruises celebrated its best single-day booking performance for its 2024 voyages when more than 350 voyages went on sale.
The 1,200-guest Vista, which will sail her maiden voyage from Rome to Barcelona on April 14, 2023 and continue with more programmes in the west, are sold out for the first six to eight months. Most of the bookings are by repeat customers who are “excited to see the new toy in the family”.
Vista is the first brand-new ship the cruise line is introducing in a decade, noted Del Rio.
Throughout the past three years, the cruise line remained committed to maintaining its relationship with travel advisors through communications and business support, such as the provision of marketing collateral, training, virtual events and consumer events, detailed Del Rio.
These investments extend to the Asia region, which Del Rio said “has always been an important (segment), as it brings us the exact type of affluent customers that we want and matches up well with the demographic we court over in North America”.
Asian markets like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China will continue to play critical roles in supporting Oceania Cruises’ global growth, although marketing investments in closed-off China have been adjusted in accordance to travelling conditions.
“Our sales and marketing money is put where we know is going to work. The China market is turned off right now but we are watching it carefully,” said Del Rio, who added that bookings are still coming in from Chinese customers who had relocated out of China in recent years.
The cruise line’s sales and marketing focus on Asian travel partners is set to scale up.
Del Rio explained: “In the US, we spend approximately 60 per cent of our marketing budget on targeted direct mail. Here, however, the key to success lies in our partnerships with travel advisors.”
To reconnect with Asian travel advisors and recognise top performers, Oceania Cruises is bringing a select group of 20 agents from around Asia to Singapore this week for the Asia Sales Conference for Top Partners. This is the first such conference since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
“It is an opportunity to re-engage with them, demonstrate our support for the great work they do, and confirm our commitment to helping them grow their business,” remarked Del Rio.
Del Rio is confident that the Asian market will continue to show strong performance, fuelled by continued pent-up travel demand as well as new products and experiences onboard its ships and on shore.
Besides the lure of Vista, guests can look forward to fresh shore excursion series such as Go Green sustainability-focused tours; Beyond Blueprints tours, which offer a rare behind-the-scenes look at some of the world’s most iconic architectural landmarks; and Go Local tours, which are exclusive, small-batch arrangements that lead guests beyond the usual tourist sites.
New in the market too is the cruise line’s 2024-2025 Tropics and Exotics Collection of itineraries, which opened for sale on November 3. The collection of 157 voyages includes 14 new off-the-beaten-path ports, and offers 30 to 50 per cent more time in port than other premium lines.