A new category of luxury travel lit up the stage during Arnie Weissmann's interview with a panel of Carnival Corp. presidents at CruiseWorld on Thursday, promising high-end customers something even better than the African safari -- and travel advisors an even better revenue source.
Weissmann, Travel Weekly's editor in chief, gave Seabourn's Josh Leibowitz the lead-in with his comment that "expeditions are exploding," and Leibowitz was off, describing what he sees as the future at the top of the luxury scale.
A luxury category beyond safari
"We are building a whole new category here," he said. "Our vision is to enable Step Next experiences that are a category after safari. You will see more species of wildlife on a 10- or 11-day exploration on Seabourn Venture then on a safari, and you will do it in pure luxury."
Seabourn's "newest baby," the Venture is designed to go literally anywhere in the world. It will start in the Arctic, launching from Oslo, Norway, with Zodiacs and submarines and a cinema-grade camera that can find and track a polar bear in the wild and lead the ship to it.
Expedition trips are perfect for "clients that are ready for and only want the best -- it's up to you to tell the story," he said to the travel advisors in the room. "I highly recommend that you learn this category. It is a great earning opportunity, and the commission on one of these sales is going to be enough to help you save for one yourself."
Ocean Medallion is Princess' jewel
Just a month into his new position as president of Princess Cruises, meanwhile, John Padgett said he hopes the Ocean Medallion Class will remain unique to Princess rather than spread to other brands. "I'm hoping it stays a point of differentiation for us for some time; it generates value for everyone. I can guarantee that if your client sails Medallion class you will have a happy client."
It's been so popular that it recently has been expanded to allow guests to use Medallion Pay onshore in Cabo. As ever, Padgett said, the strategy is to take the friction out of every encounter so guests can just enjoy the experience.
Experience what you sell
And Holland America Line's Gus Antorcha made a good point about selling cruises right now.
"There are a lot of people who are ready to go, and most land-based options are full," he said. "You can hardly get room service in many hotels" -- while cruise ships are focused, as ever, on delivering the attention to detail that makes customers feel special.
"If you want someone to believe what you believe, you need to get out there yourself," he said to travel advisors. "There's no easier way to sell. Get out there, and get your teams out there."