Crystal Cruises recently announced the hiring of Jack Anderson, a longtime cruise executive, who most recently served as senior vice president, worldwide marketing, sales and public relations at Seabourn, and, at one time, was vice president of corporate marketing and sales for Carnival Corporation, as the replacement to Bill Smith, who moved on to a post with Virtuoso. Anderson, who assumes the job at Crystal of senior vice president, marketing and sales, spoke to Travel Agent about the direction of Crystal and the overall luxury market.
He says that he's had an eye on Crystal for a while. "With the decision to not continue with Seabourn, I had a very short list of companies that I was interested in," he says. "I was very fortunate that Gregg [Michel] selected me and it's equally true I selected Crystal. It's where I wanted to go work. I know the product and I like their style."
Of course, stepping in to fill the role once held by Bill Smith isn't easy. "Bill has such an incredible reputation with other lines, executives and travel agents," Anderson says. "It's an honor and challenege. We clearly share the same strong commitment to the retail distribution system, the travel agents. That is not going to change."
Anderson is encouraged by the fact that there is a lot more that can be done to entice luxury cruisers. "Consumers are changing," he says. "First of all, my perspective on the luxury market is that it is underpenetrated versus the total market." He cites that only around 2 percent of cruisers have taken a luxury cruise. "We want to increase first-time Crystal guests. This requires us to be tuned into their changing needs and expectations. Our marketing should reflect this evolution."
Understanding the new luxury cruiser is top of mind for Anderson. "It's about collecting experiences and being successful means great itinerary planning. At our end of market, guests are all about belt notching. They want to see destinations in depth, they want their experience individualized and on their schedule." Crystal has made moves to accommodate this sentiment by installing such measures as open dining.
They've also done it through ship renovations of Serenity and Symphony to make them more modern, but still hold the classic Crystal charm. "Everything revolves around guest feedback," Anderson says. "They are the boss."
Anderson, who officially assumed his new role July 1, is still in the early stages of goal development. He says he is having staff report to him their top three priorities as it relates to the line, which he will then pass on to Michel.
In the short term, he says he has the responsibility "to improve yields and occupancy" and "consumer awareness" of the brand. "There still are sailings with need for promotion in the tactical sense," he says, to fill up ships. "However, I expect to put together strategies where we move to increase prices. There is opportunity to do so."
With regard to destinations, Anderson says that the luxury guest is looking for more exotic itineraries, such as South America and Asia. He also tells Travel Agent that Alaska, after a somehwat hiberation, is improving dramatically as a destinaton.
Then there is the question every loyal Crystal guest asks: "When will we see a new ship?" Anderson won't say there is anything definitive in the works, but admits the want is there. "I am a proponent that Crystal is an underveloped brand," he says. "I fully support looking at new builds."