Regent: A Progress Report

All-inclusive fares, commissions drive strong performance and a possible newbuild

By: By Marilyn Green

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Click here to read the first in a series of stories about refurbished cruise ships.

The Details

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Onboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newly renovated Seven Seas Voyager, president Mark Conroy met with agents to discuss recent developments for the brand, along with plans for the future.

Conroy said Regent’s all-inclusive program has been a huge success and that agents are very pleased about the removal of noncommissionable fees while passengers are enthusiastically indulging themselves with its complimentary shore excursions. Conroy said that, since the new policy was announced early last year, Regent has booked 250,000 free shore excursions.

President Mark Conroy // © 2010 Regent Seven Seas Cruises

President Mark Conroy
// © 2010 Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Customer satisfaction is high, with 97 percent of the line’s customers saying they will sail with Regent again, and many of them book onboard. Regent actively sells future cruises on its ships, but it only allows the passengers to buy through their agents; $66 million in business is sold onboard.

Conroy said that, during the height of the economic crisis, cancellation rates rose to 35 percent; they now run about 25 percent. Regent is overselling by 15 percent, but Conroy said the line never forces passengers to leave a sailing; it simply makes very attractive offers for longer cruises or upgraded suites to divert the necessary number of guests.

Regent has been very successful with offers of two-for-one savings and complimentary or half price air.

“At first, I didn’t like the idea of two-for-one,” Conroy said. “But Frank [Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, parent company of Regent and Oceania Cruises] convinced me.”

Del Rio had Regent send out a promotional mailing with half containing a two-for-one offer and half offering 60 percent off. The two-for-one deal produced much stronger results.

Regent is keeping its promise to raise prices closer to sailing in an effort to get guests to book early, and it is working — the average guest books 240 days in advance. If Conroy can demonstrate a sufficiently high level of sales, the third Oceania newbuild option is likely to emerge as a Regent ship, probably in 2012. From the fourth deck up, the ship would feature a Regent design with all suites and a very large spa, while the first three decks would be consistent with the Oceania design. Conroy also said Regent has decided to build single suites for the growing singles market.

Prospects are good for the strong bookings Regent needs to launch a newbuild, and clients are extremely loyal to the brand. Voyager had just completed her World Cruise in New York when agents met with Conroy in May. He said more than 300 guests sailed the entire cruise; 250 of these were annual repeaters.

“We’re seeing more and more people with an ownership feeling about these ships,” Conroy said.

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