Marketing makeovers and more are in the spotlight as the 26th Annual Crystal Sales Gala continues.
As the second full day of business sessions got underway aboard Crystal Mozart, agents were talking about the “Crystal on Broadway” premiere the previous evening. The creation of Tony Award-winner Kevin McCollum, the show featured singer Rachel York.
Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez gave agents an effusive update on the soon-to-open Crystal showcase building in Miami, which she is clearly excited about.
"It’s in a fantastic area near the performing arts centers at 14th and Biscayne. It’s a 1936 historic Shriners building…There can be hold ups with permits on historic Art Deco landmarks. But we hope to open around the time Art Basel is in town,” said Rodriguez.
When work on the building is complete, two-thirds of the first floor will consist of al fresco and indoor dining. The other one-third will serve as the entryway to the “Crystal Experience.”
Rodriguez explained the concept.
“You go upstairs to this magnificent space with double-high ceilings. The history of that building is incredible. You start on a guided tour in a virtual reality room. You can walk through all the different Crystal brands. Then, you go to a mock-up of the Crystal residence apartments and staterooms from our future ship class,” said Rodriguez.
Another new Crystal experience, Crystal AirCruises, is about to get off the ground. At the gala, travel agents learned the basics.
Crystal has bought a Boeing 777, which they’ve dubbed Crystal Skye. It will operate 15-29 day “aircruise” journeys.
Crystal Skye has been reconfigured to hold 84 guests. It has lie-flat beds, a private lounge and Michelin-inspired cuisine. Seats are in a 2-2-2 configuration, staggered for privacy. They provide everyone with a view out a window. Each seat has a 24-inch monitor, and there will be free Wi-Fi on board.
Also on board: one “sky butler” for every six guests, two air concierges plus a doctor who accompanies the entire journey.
Of note, Crystal AirCruises is structured as a separate tour operator within the company. That means agents will have to sign a new agreement to do business with them.
Marketing also made some important points during the week.
Last August, the decision was made to “lift and shift” the marketing team from L.A. to Miami. Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Angela Composto introduced some new initiatives.
At the top of the list are a new digital department and new sales tools. Those include new webinars, selling guides and comparison sheets. The Travel Agent Center on the website has received a facelift. It now includes the latest promotional flyers, company policies and other key resources for agents.
Additional enhancements to the Crystal website will proceed on a short and long-term basis. For now, agents will find increased functionality, search capability and video content, Crystal said.
After the business sessions, agents enjoyed a coach excursion to Esztergom and Visegrad Castle. Also on tap during the week were rides on the Danube on the Mozart Excursion Yacht, e-bike rides, yoga and stretching classes and even an apple strudel cooking demonstration.
This was the first sales gala for Wendy Taylor of Preferred Travel in Naples, FL.
“I think they’ve done an amazing job with everything. The ship is really beautiful, and the crew is incredible,” said Taylor.
She even managed to find a bright side to the mechanical problem that had sidelined Crystal Mozart for most of the week.
“Clients can encounter challenges on the river when they travel. There can be low water or high water. Now, I can tell them I’ve been in their shoes and Crystal can totally handle it,” said Taylor.