Following shortly after the July launch of Silversea Academy, an exclusive training platform designed to empower travel agents in the world of ultra-luxury cruising, the ultra-luxury cruise line is reaping more frequent bookings from trade partners.
Kenneth Yau, director of sales, Greater China, told TTG Asia that the more active agent partners in his region who have completed the course, have been able to now generate “very frequent bookings”.
“While not everybody has done everything (on the training platform), the feedback I get from a lot of our partners in Greater China has been quite positive,” said Yau during Silver Nova’s ongoing exclusive preview sailing for some 200 select travel agent partners and media representatives.
Silver Nova will sail her official maiden voyage on August 14.
Further articulating the value Silversea Academy brings to trade partners, Philippa Walker, marketing director, Asia-Pacific, said the featured content brings clarity to the various classic and expedition products offered by the cruise line. Having completed the programme, travel agents will be able to talk their customers through Silversea Cruises’ experiences “with confidence”.
“If a customer is spending US$20,000 on a holiday, they want to know that they are putting their money down with a trusted partner,” she remarked.
Walker emphasised the cruise line’s continued respect and reliance on the travel agency network.
She detailed: “In Australia, for example, travel agents represent quite a large percentage of our business. A lot of our Venetian Society (loyalty programme) guests continue to rely heavily on our travel agent partners because their complete travel experience is not made up of only cruises; they also book air and pre and post accommodation. They might come to Europe for six weeks, and spend two of those weeks on a Silversea cruise.
“Also, our guests love the fact that should something go wrong, they have someone on the other end of the phone to offer solutions.”
Silversea Cruises’ support for travel agents is not limited to the new Silversea Academy. It boosts travel agent earnings by paying out commissions even on future bookings made by their guests directly with the cruise line. Additional opportunities to earn more with Silversea Cruises are also created through limited-period specials. For example, in May this year, the cruise line introduced an incentive for its Travel Partner Appreciation Month, where a new confirmed booking on any expedition cruise made in May and June would enter travel agents into a weekly prize draw for a chance to win a gift card.
Furthermore, travel agents are supported by the comprehensive Travel Partner Resource Center, which comprises insightful webinars and the Travel Partner Appreciation programme. Of these support features, Walker said the Marketing Central tool is most loved.
Walker shared: “Nowadays, travel agents don’t just sell to customers – they have to market and find new customers. They used to rely on us to do everything for them, but with Marketing Central, they can easily create Silversea flyers, ads and social media content on their own while staying on brand. They only need to click some buttons to produce the marketing materials they need.”
Yau added that Marketing Central offers travel agents across the world and different time zones the flexibility to manage their own marketing activations.
“We are operating in a very globalised world, so we need to appreciate that different trade partners work in different time zones and different markets may have different ideal timings for marketing activation,” he said.