Carnival Sunshine at dock // Photo by Susan J. Young
Carnival Corp. Vice Chairman Howard Frank conducted an earnings conference call with financial analysts on Tuesday. The world's largest cruise company reported that third quarter 2013 earnings fell 30 percent over the same period a year ago, despite higher revenues. Still, many markers beat most of the Wall Street estimates.
Most of interest to travel agents, though, were Frank's gleanings about Carnival Cruise Lines' performance. "For Carnival Cruise Lines, booking volumes and pricing over the last 12 weeks are both lower year-over-year in the low-single digits and mid-double digits range, respectively," he said.
But Frank revealed that the contemporary brand's booking volumes have shown recent improvement and during the last six weeks are running higher year-over-year. As those volumes steadily increase, "we are expecting their cruise pricing to gradually improve over the longer term,” Frank stated.
The Carnival Cruise Lines brand “continues to demonstrate such resiliency in the market maintaining high occupancies albeit at lower prices," he said, noting that signs point to improvement at a faster pace than originally projected, so "we are greatly encouraged by these positive signs.”
Frank talked about Carnival’s new national fall advertising campaign, stressing that should drive more business to travel agents.“This is one of the largest fourth quarter national marketing expenses for Carnival in recent years and is designed to further accelerate the improvements we are seeing in brand perception and consideration,” said Frank.
Focusing on Carnival Conversations, the trade outreach effort which Travel Agent has covered in depth on this site, he cited these positives: the addition of more in-house call center agents, a new bonus, commission plans, complimentary cabins and other changes that help make it easier for agents to book Carnival.
As for the new, simplified pricing plan which the line has said it will unveil this fall, Frank said that’s “expected to be announced shortly.”
But what's been the actual result to date from agent outreach efforts? Frank told the analysts the response to the changes by travel agents has been very positive: "We have seen a significant improvement in travel agent bookings with the introduction of these programs.”
Frank also thanked agents for their continuing support of Carnival Cruise Lines during this past year and said the brand will continue to reach out to agents to enhance the distribution channel partnership.
For the full earnings release visit http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=200767&p=irol-newsUSCCL&nyo=0