Royal Caribbean is rolling out the first phase of changes to its Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program fleetwide today.
“We listened to our member guests and are launching program enhancements to reflect what they told us matter most to them,” says Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of marketing, Royal Caribbean International. She said the changes follow months of research in talking to Crown & Anchor Society members about what they most want in terms of program enhancements.
According to O’Rourke: “We recognize that these are our most valuable guests. They’re also our biggest advocates. They are our fan club and we are theirs.”
Citing total program membership at “millions,” O’Rourke still points out that only 25 percent of existing guests onboard any given Royal Caribbean sailing actually belong to the Crown an&d Anchor Society. Unlike some other companies’ loyalty programs, registration in the Royal Caribbean program is not automatic. So the goal is to reward existing members and to also get more guests to sign up.
“There are many things we’re going to be rolling out, and this is the first [phase],” says O’Rourke. She noted that the line had reorganized its marketing department with a dedicated team to service Crown & Anchor Society members and guests via one-to-one communications.
To manage that responsibility, the line has hired Lillian Murphy, vice president of one-to-one marketing. Her background includes experience with the Peppers and Rogers Group/Carlson Marketing as well as British Airways. She’s been with Royal Caribbean for about six weeks.
“Our members have really guided us in this particular instance around what’s most important to them,” says Murphy. “Our members obviously like to book onboard, so as of June 1 we are now establishing an exclusive opportunity for them to book onboard.”
Previously, anyone could book onboard. Now clients will not be able to do so unless they are members of the Crown & Anchor Society. So, if they’re onboard a sailing, not a member of the society and don’t wish to join, they won’t be able to book onboard.
O’Rourke says that makes the onboard booking concept “exclusive” to members. If clients who aren’t members sail and decide to join during the cruise, they will be able to book a future cruise onboard but won’t get the benefits of membership until their next cruise. Those who have sailed with the line previously and book onboard will receive an onboard credit for a future sailing.
The line is adding one additional Crown & Anchor Society Loyalty Staff member onboard each ship to assist with questions and bookings. Travel agents will continue to receive commission for bookings their clients make onboard.
Onboard Booking Bonus
A new Onboard Booking Bonus allows members to book a future cruise onboard and receive an onboard credit to spend on the future sailing. Those who have achieved a higher tier in the program will be rewarded with higher bonus amounts.
Unlike past policies which prohibited a combination of offers, now the line will permit the onboard credit to be combined with either a Crown & Anchor Savings Certificate or a Balcony and Suite Discount (the latter applicable for Platinum, Diamond or Diamond Plus members).
Onboard, promotions to entice clients to join the society as well as special offers for members will be delivered to the client’s cabin. Travel agent partners will continue to earn commission for their clients’ onboard bookings.
Plus, O’Rourke says members will receive more individual attention and service from additional onboard loyalty staff aboard each ship. Onboard, member guests will be recognized every time they advance to a new tier within the program.
They’ll also receive added-value offers in the Crown & Anchor Society Ultimate Value Booklet. That booklet will include new onboard savings and perks for beverages, internet packages, photo and logo merchandise, supplementing the line’s existing perks such as casino and spa discounts, to name a few.
Once people sign up for the society, the line will ask for their email addresses. Then each week, Crown & Anchor Society members will receive special email offers not available to the general public. New in this first phase, some of these offers will apply to very close in sailings, said Murphy.
When will agents learn about these offers so they can answer questions and assist clients? After officials told Travel Agent "within 24 hours" during the press briefing, the line's public relations department put out a follow-up correction note on Friday stating that valued travel agent partners will learn about the program at the same time as their clients. Offers will continue to include an agent call-to-action as one option for booking.
O’Rourke cites the program’s theming, “Members First … Always” and said details on specific tiers and benefits would be outlined for members on the Crown & Anchor Society page today on www.royalcaribbean.com/crownandanchor.
In addition, she confirmed that Royal Caribbean has been evaluating other program options— including the possibility of increasing what's required to reach the top tier, and, in turn, rewarding those who get to that top tier in a more robust way.
But she also stressed that if the line would choose to take that type of step, any existing Crown & Anchor Society members would be "grandfathered" in under present tier levels.