Cruise line building its presence in Canada
On the heels of a well known cruise line garnering attention for announcing it would pay travel advisors commission on non-commissionable fares, Virgin Voyages’ North American VP of Sales John Diorio explains how their offer is different.
“When we first launched this brand, one thing we did from the very beginning was talk to a lot of our travel colleagues and our First Mates (travel advisors) to find out what were some of the pain points for them and from day one, they were very vocal about NCFs and so we came out in a very big way saying we never had them, we never will,” Diorio explains to Travel Courier. “They’re selling that cabin, they should earn the full commission on that voyage fare, not a not a percentage of it. So it’s just something we’ve always believed in strongly from day one, and it’s good to see others are looking at it, but we were proud to have been doing it since we launched.”
Over the past few months, Virgin Voyages has doubled the size of its sales team in North America. Notably for the Canadian market, Sean Russo has been appointed to the post of sales manager in Canada, officially stepping into the role in the beginning of December.
“There are a lot of First Mates wondering what we are all about and if we are for their clients. Simply put, the answer is yes, and I’m looking forward to working alongside them and making trips happen for them and their sailors,” Russo tells Travel Courier. “I am super excited to get up and running shortly and start assisting our First Mates across Canada.”
“It’s the first of a lot of great initiatives we will be working to roll out for the Canadian market in 2023,” adds Diorio. “Sean comes from the industry, a lot of our partners already know who he is. He’s just a great fit to the team.”
In terms of what’s selling well, Diorio says there’s strong demand for the Caribbean product for the winter as well as the Mediterranean product for summer.
“Our bookings have more than doubled in Q3 compared to Q2,” he notes.
While Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady are currently sailing, he says sales for Resilient Lady and Brilliant Lady are also open.
“2023 will be another big year for us as we will launch both our third and fourth ships,” he says. “Resilient Lady will begin sailing in May of next year out of Greece, and then later in the year, December to be exact, Brilliant Lady will make her way over and start sailing out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.”
For advisors who may not be super familiar with the brand yet, he says the fact that it’s geared entirely to adults is part of what sets Virgin Voyages apart.
“There are no kids on board our ship and there’s a different vibe when you come on,” he says. “I think the second key thing is how much more we include in that voyage fare — we include all of the eateries, 20 plus eateries on board our Lady ships. You don’t have to pay a service charge to any of our specialty restaurants. We include the things that matter to customers when they come on board. We think WiFi is the basic human right, everybody gets free WiFi. The group workout classes are included. And more importantly, all of the gratuities as well.”
Of note to agents, he points out that commission is also paid on all pre voyage sales.
“There is just great earning opportunity when you book with Virgin Voyages,” he explains. “We’re seeing a much higher price point, which means that our partners are going to earn more money with us because we include more in the voyage fare. When you buy our bar tab, drink package, or shore excursions, our partners are making 10% commission on that as well. I think the earning potential is really, really strong for our First Mates.”