Crystal Esprit, the newest addition to the fleet, will feature a mini-submarine. // © 2015 Crystal Cruises
Crystal recently unveiled Crystal Yacht Cruises. // © 2015 Crystal Cruises
In March, when Crystal Cruises announced that Genting Hong Kong would acquire the line for $421.4 million in cash, the travel agent community was stunned. The sale would mean that, after years of anticipation, a third luxury cruise ship would join Crystal’s fleet. Then, agents heard plans for not just one brand-new ship but three — each complete with a helicopter, a submarine and 48 multimillion-dollar residences for sale. More surprise announcements followed about Crystal’s foray into river cruising, yachting and jet vacations. And the news just keeps coming.
During Crystal’s 24th Annual Sales Achievement Awards Gala onboard Symphony last month, the brand revealed that a second jet will join Crystal Luxury Air fleet. It will be smaller than its Boeing 787 Dreamliner counterpart and offer shorter, 14-day itineraries around the world.
Crystal also acknowledged evolving consumer needs, announcing that its complimentary Internet program will extend to all guests. Cruisers will be able to use at least one hour of free Wi-Fi access per day (unused minutes will rollover).
The past two years have been among the most profitable for the company, and the travel agent community is responsible for about 96 percent of its bookings. Crystal is in the process of repositioning itself as a global hospitality and luxury lifestyle brand, which means travel advisors can expect to have even more inventory to sell down the line.
“We are soon to be the world’s most awarded luxury and lifestyle brand portfolio,” said president and CEO Edie Rodriguez. “We are on a mission. Please be cognizant that there is much more to come. This is only the beginning.”
Commission structures for the new, ocean-going Crystal Exclusive Class, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Yacht Cruises will remain the same for agents. The jet will offer competitive commissions at a flat rate, according to Rodriguez. However, the company has not yet announced how it plans to work with agents on Crystal Residences sales.
“These are noncommissionable real-estate transactions, but we’re looking at a referral fee for agents,” Rodriguez said.
To keep clients interested in both Symphony and Serenity through late 2018, when the new ships debut, the brand is offering reduced fares, with savings of up to $6,000 per person on select voyages in 2016, 2017 and 2018. (Clients previously booked will automatically receive the savings.) In addition, all 2015, 2016, 2017 and published 2018 fares will be guaranteed through Dec. 30.
Crystal’s executive team was all ears during the gala, asking agents for their input. Feedback was well received, with promises to implement ideas when possible.
“We currently do not have an organized system in place to measurably assess our performance by our travel agent base,” said Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president of operations, during the gala. “This presents a great area of opportunity that we are going to focus on in the future. Our goal is to win trade awards as consistently as we win consumer awards. We want to serve you.”
Agents are critical to the brand’s expansion as more yet-to-be-announced sales opportunities hover on the horizon. Within the next six months, Crystal is expected to make those plans public.
“There will be a lot more announcements to come,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t, at this time, divulge any of the information, but definitely everything that we do will be commissionable to our travel partners.