Crystal CEO asks top sellers for even bigger commitment

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During the Crystal sales gala's Goddesses and Gladiators reception, from left, Cheng Hang, Nasa Cruises; Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez;  Joseph Hang, Nasa Cruises; and Carmen Roig of Crystal.
During the Crystal sales gala's Goddesses and Gladiators reception, from left, Cheng Hang, Nasa Cruises; Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez; Joseph Hang, Nasa Cruises; and Carmen Roig of Crystal.

ONBOARD THE CRYSTAL SYMPHONY — With Crystal Cruises' ambitious expansion underway, CEO Edie Rodriguez said she has a new goal for travel agents: to make them monogamous.

Currently, she said, agents get to “be like Mormons with multiple brands for sister wives,” depending on what type of vacation their clients are looking for.

But as Crystal in recent months has announced new products (private jet charters, yacht cruising, river cruises), she said she wants Crystal to be a one-stop shop for all their clients’ luxury travel needs.

“We want to convert you from being Mormon to Christian,” Rodriguez told the company’s top-selling agents who were gathered on the Crystal Symphony for its 25th annual sales gala during three days of a Mediterranean cruise. (Editor’s note: In response to this report, Paul Garcia, Crystal’s director of global public relations, contacted Travel Weekly to say that the Mormon/monogamy analogy, which Rodriguez used several times in her talk, was intended not as a religious commentary but as a lighthearted reference to the popular television show, "Sister Wives.” Travel Weekly reminds readers that Mormons consider themselves a Christian religion and have not practiced or condoned polygamy for 150 years.)

Seventy-nine agents attended the event, which honors those who sold more than $600,000 last year on the Crystal fleet, which until December included just two ships, the Symphony and the Serenity.

But with the December launch of its first luxury yacht, the Esprit; the April debut of Crystal Luxury Air; and the premiere later this year of its first European river cruises on the Mozart, Crystal is upping its goals for agents this year, asking them to top $750,000 in sales.

With the new products, which Rodriguez said she prefers to refer to as “experiences,” agents will now have a host of puzzle pieces from which to build the best in custom itineraries for travelers looking for more than a traditional ocean cruise.

Rodriguez said the company is beefing up its sales team and launching a new website and other technologies to help agents sell the new "experiences" to groups and individuals.

Last year, the company said, baby boomers for the first time overtook mature travelers as the majority of Crystal Society members. And its yacht product is attracting a younger demographic than its traditional ship.

“You have an opportunity to make lots of money,” she said, “so take advantage of it and get rid of those sister wives.”

Last week, the company released detailed renderings and design insights for Mozart.

Rodriguez and company officials promised that Crystal would take river cruising to a new level of luxury, from service to cuisine to excursions on Crystal-owned buses.

“Right now, if you asked 10 people who took river cruises to name their favorite, you would get 10 different answers,” she said. “After July, you are going to get one answer Crystal-clear answer. You’re going to be blown away.”

During the sales gala, Rodriguez and company executives took media guests aboard the new charter jet to two of the shipyards it owners have purchased in Germany for a river ship steel-cutting ceremony, shipyard tours and an expected new announcement.

“There is a lot more to come,” Rodriguez told the agents Monday.
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Correction: In an earlier version of this report, Cheng Hang was misidentified in the photo as Julian Hang.

This report was updated on May 17.

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