Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president sales for Celebrity Cruises // © 2016 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Feature image (above): The second phase of Espresso includes improvements to group bookings and management. // © 2016 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Learn more about the initial launch of Royal Caribbean's Espresso
global reservation system.
In a move based on feedback from travel agents, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has introduced the second phase of Espresso Global Reservation System, its agent reservation system, citing major improvements for group business with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. Agents now will find simplified group management, the ability to create and book headquarter group space and a new group amenity points-redemption setup.
Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of sales for Celebrity, says that she, along with Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and service for Royal Caribbean, and Juan Silva, director of trade e-marketing and distribution for Royal Caribbean, have been trying to get this tool for more than five years.
Ritzenthaler explains that the changes allow agencies affiliated with large hosts, such as a consortium or members of a headquarter (a cooperative of agencies), can book into their headquarter’s group inventory. For instance, groups such as Vacation.com can take out group space at the headquarter level, then create marketing for their member agencies to fill the space.
“This extends our reach much further and it gives us a competitive edge, a reason for agents to choose us,” Ritzenthaler said. “Now we can compete head-to-head with this capability, work with consortia so much more.”
“The headquarters side is the sexiest part, but there are several meaningful tools that make booking groups so much easier,” she added. “We have an enhanced stateroom-availability search with interactive deck plans that allow agents to pull up the 50 best open accommodations closest to a specific booked stateroom, so individuals and families can easily work out possibilities for children, parents and friends. We’re getting feedback from agents on this already.”
There are also now fewer steps involved in reserving and managing groups. Group shell and group booking owners can create and manage their own reports, including financial statements and booking invoices, and take advantage of a more intuitive booking payment system that can generate guest invoices. And the system offers easy redemption of group amenity points, which can be shared and even bought online.
The new features add to those introduced with Espresso in 2015, the most popular being the single-view function: a side-by-side comparison of individual and group pricing; and availability with interactive deck plans, noting the best available staterooms. Results can be filtered by custom criteria such as connecting staterooms, accessible accommodations and guests’ previous preferences.
“This is phase two,” Ritzenthaler said, “and there will be more additions ahead.”