|Espresso is designed so agents spend fewer steps in making and servicing bookings. // Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International|
Are you using Espresso, the new reservations system introduced in early 2015 by Azamara Club Cruise, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International?
Well, we’ve learned many new features are coming in 2016, after a discussion with Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean's senior vice president of sales and trade support and service, and Juan Silva, the line's director, e-distribution strategy and development - sales.
|Espresso is the reservations system for Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. // Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean|
In May 2016, consortia, host agencies and headquarters groups with affiliated agents will be able to create new “Headquarters Groups” -- allowing their authorized affiliated members to view, shop and book into their own groups.
By fall 2016, agents will be able to do the following in Espresso, according to Silva:
- Transfer individual reservations into groups.
- Redeem GAP points online.
- Create “group shells” with fewer steps. This simplified process will allow agents to quickly block new groups in just three easy steps.
- View, shop and book connecting staterooms.
- Book up to four staterooms using the new “Shopping Cart” concept with guest qualifiers such as air, cruise only, loyalty, occupancy and so on, as well as guest preferences.
One Agency Owner's Perspective
Alan Rosen, president, Sand & C Travel, Boynton Beach, FL, had been a long critic of Royal Caribbean’s systems. "I found them to be complicated and burdensome," he said. "I was a particular fan of Polar, and found everything from booking a cabin to administering groups was much easier on Polar."
What's his perspective now? "Espresso was a giant leap for Royal Caribbean," says Rosen. "Our staff loves it." Rosen says that being able to compare price codes easily between group and individual reservations was a massive step forward. He also likes the interactive deck plans, which he feels are efficient, friendly and actually an improvement over Polar.
He also appreciates that the Espresso system isn't just "dry" in tone all the time, mentioning that Espresso offers a "Congratulations" to agents when the booking is complete.
As for the coming enhancements, "after seeing a preview of the shopping cart function, this will make booking multiple cabins at once even easier," he believes. He's also excited to see the group enhancements coming in the upcoming year. "Our agency blocks a lot of groups, and I understand that steps will be removed from the process and we will be able to select GAP in the process," he says.
Rosen says Royal Caribbean recognized that it was behind the competition but they stepped up to the plate. "Juan and his team reached out extensively for comments and people to test the system and were truly open to constructive criticism in order to make the best user experience in booking cruises. While the product continues to evolve, we love the difference it has made in doing our work."
Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for an upcoming article detailing more about Royal Caribbean's latest programs, ships and features with extensive comments from Freed and Silva.