Silversea offers selling incentives and discounts

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The deeply cut cruise prices of last fall may be gone, but Silversea is continuing to tout aggressive fare promotions and is offering a new incentive for agents to sell them.

The Profit Sharing Incentive program pays cash bonuses to agents who sell a certain number of cabins. Agents who sell three cabins on sailings before Dec. 21 receive a $1,000 bonus. The more they sell, the bigger the bonus.

"We know how important it is to reward the agent as the gatekeeper in the selling process," said Bill Leiber, Silversea's senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The agent-incentive program complements the line's new Simplicity Pricing program -- guests can save up to 50% on some cruises -- which resulted from exposure lost during the post-Sept. 11 travel downturn.

Several scheduled visits to key U.S. ports to promote its ships last year were canceled, thereby losing the opportunity to showcase the Silversea product to potential guests.

In addition, Leiber said, a post-Wave bookings slump prompted the line to try to stimulate the luxury market.

"We saw a wonderful resurgence of bookings in December. ... In February and March, we were 35% ahead of where we were last year," Leiber said. "Now it's slackened off a little bit."

During the first five days of the Simplicity Pricing program, however, the line booked nearly $2 million in new sales, Leiber said.

A chart displaying the Simplicity Pricing percentage savings on Vista and Veranda suites, both for new guests and for Venetian Society members (Silversea's repeat guest program), is available for agents to keep track of the discounts.

Cruises outside North America are less popular this year, Leiber said, and are therefore discounted at a higher rate.

For example, a Vista cabin on an 11-day cruise from New York to Montreal is marked down 20% to $6,595 for brand-new guests and down 25% for Venetian guests. An 11-day cruise from Barcelona to Athens, on the other hand, is being offered with the full 50% discount, to $3,695 for all guests.

Despite the discounts, Leiber said Silversea continues to cater to the upmarket crowd. "We're not going to have pricing points in the $250 to $300 range, which changes the composition of guests on board," he said.

"We're still going after the high-end luxury cruiser," he added. "We're looking for an agent to do what they need to do, which is add value ... and consult on what a Silversea cruise offers."

Leiber said the discounts were similar to the line's early booking deals, but those offers became less worthwhile as guests continued to book closer and closer to departure date.

"It's something we find really quite amazing," he said. "It's close-in bookings that we have never experienced in the past."

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