New exec team to promote Seabourn's 'yachts'

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MIAMI -- Seabourn Cruise Line is adding new sales and marketing executives to support the ultraluxury operator's renewed emphasis on the "yacht-like" intimacy of its smaller ships.

The new executives previously divided their time between Seabourn and its sister brand Cunard Line but will now work exclusively for Seabourn, said Rick Meadows, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Signe Bjorndal will become director of marketing, with responsibility for advertising, direct mail, brochures, collateral materials and e-marketing. She was previously director of worldwide marketing for Cunard Line Ltd.

Douglas Seagle was named director of sales development, a new position. He had been manager of national accounts for Cunard Line and previously spent 15 years with Royal Caribbean.

Tanya Barnette was named director of charter and incentive sales. She joined Cunard in 1995 from Ritz-Carlton.

"There's lots of talent in the group," said Meadows. "The main challenge is defining to travel agents who Seabourn Cruise Line is and what it can do for passengers that other cruise lines can't. We have to distill the product in such a way as to make it understandable and accessible [to agents]," he said.

Characterizing the product as "ultraluxury cruising in a class of its own," Meadows said: "We operate all-suite vessels for 50 to 100 couples, we have a virtual one-to-one guest-to-passenger ratio, and our ability to serve guests is better than [that of] other operators in the industry."

Seabourn's renewed emphasis on small-ship intimacy follows the recent decision to transfer the 740-passenger Seabourn Sun next year to the Holland America fleet, where it will sail as Prinsendam.

That will leave Seabourn with a more homogeneous fleet, consisting of three 212-passenger ships (Seabourn Legend, Pride and Spirit) and two 100-passenger vessels, Seabourn Goddess I and II.

"We've made the marketing message very clear: We have one brand and one basic ship size," said Meadows. "We've made it easier for the agent to position Seabourn to their clients and for us to position Seabourn to agents."

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