ABOARD THE CRYSTAL SYMPHONY-Crystal Cruises is hosting its
top-producing travel agent event this week aboard the Crystal Symphony. On
board for the 17th Annual Sales Achievement Awards Gala are approximately 90
top travel agents who are sailing from Monte-Carlo to Le Verdon (Bordeaux) who met the required threshold of $650,000 in Crystal sales in 2006.
(Nearly 100 agents met the threshold; however, some were unable to attend). In
the first day of presentations, Greg Michel, president of Crystal Cruises, told
the top-producing agents that a new ship is indeed in the works for the cruise
line. "We are committed to a new ship," said Michel, who added that Crystal has been diligent
in conducting market research to determine what the new ship should look like.
Input thus far has come from guest feedback--in fact, over the past year, guests
have provided more than 37,000 written-in comments on their shipboard surveys
that relate to what they would like to see on a new Crystal ship. Additionally, the luxury cruise
line has just conducted a series of one-on-one focus group meetings with travel
agents in Los Angeles, San
Francisco and New York
to assess their thoughts on a new vessel. Crystal
currently sails the Serenity and the Symphony; the Harmony left the fleet in
Michel said he feels that Crystal should introduce a new generation of
ships that relate to the needs and desires of the baby boomer market, which is
"expecting more." Recent studies show that 33 percent of Crystal's new customer
base comes from the baby-boomer age group. "We are seeing an influx of
baby boomers. They are demanding with an 'I-want-it-now' attitude, which means
we have to stick to the details," he said.
While on board, this exclusive group of travel agents has
been able to experience $35 million in enhancements to the 13-year-old Crystal
Symphony that have been deployed over the past three years. Last November, the
ship underwent an intense 10-day dry-dock renovation that updated the décor and
technology in 418 staterooms, revamped its casino, added a posh new
disco/nightclub called Luxe and completely restructured the Starlite Lounge,
which now sports 360-degree views afforded by floor-to-ceiling windows. The
ship's retail area also has been completely replaced and now serves up designer
goods in several venues. Michel said since that move, on-board retail sales
have increased. "We are making more money and we're providing a better
experience for our guests," he noted.
Future enhancements to both the Symphony and Serenity
include new mattresses in staterooms by December. Additionally, the
five-year-old Serenity in August will have more triple-sized staterooms to
accommodate family travelers. That ship next year will have a new casino and a
new CrystalPlaza entry area.