Holland America Line’s New Koningsdam from a Sales Perspective
I had the opportunity to chat with Holland America Line’s vice president, North America Sales Eva Jenner to see what the new Koningsdam represents for the brand’s future market growth potential. In addition, we discussed the Nieuw Statendam, expected in fall 2018, and whether the existing fleet is being modified to more closely match the latest vessels.
First, the Koningsdam is a hit. Jenner said, the reaction has been “really positive. I Invited some of our trade partners onboard just so they can experience it…So far from our guests and our trade partners it’s all been positive – really really fantastic reviews. This ship still looks like a Holland America Line ship, but it has these tweaks that make it extra special.”
Also, the new-build has not distracted from the existing fleet either. In fact, Jenner continued to say, “There’s a renewed sense of invigoration, wonder and interest in our ships. And I think the rest of the fleet, they’re so special. Each ship is so unique. It has that theme; all these ships look similar but have unique touches to [them]. And what we’re doing is we’re spending about 3 or 400 million dollars over the next couple of years to upgrade the rest of our fleet and enhance it so that there is a theme throughout the ships.
“For example, we had just upgraded the Eurodam in December and the Oosterdam last month. So [enhancements such as Music Walk are] the theme that you’ll see throughout the ships, and it started here on the Koningsdam. But we’re taking it to the rest of our fleet too. So, you’ll see that with our suites…We’re taking the beauty and the great things that we have here and incorporating [them] in the rest of the fleet.”
I also asked her is there were any specific surprises that have delighted guests on the new ship. Her response: “Definitely our New York Deli and Pizza. I think people were surprised by it, and I think it’s still sort of a secret for some because it’s kind of tucked away. But once you come here, it’s sort of addicting. When I was on during the shakedown cruise, I kept coming up here to have it, but the one that I keep hearing about is the Grand Dutch Cafe. It is so cool…It’s just so good, and it’s a nice gathering place for people...which takes us back to our Dutch roots and our heritage.”
From a technological standpoint, the complimentary Navigator web app for accessing daily schedules, dining information, itinerary details and more also impresses Jenner. “I love it. I look at it all the time, and I think that’s a great addition.”
Additionally, the new World Stage theater on the Koningsdam is not to be missed. She said, “It is amazing. Having the screens surround you, it’s so cool that our entertainment department can create different shows quickly and can change them out pretty quickly so you don’t have to worry about bringing any type of props to the stage, and you really can use the background to set the mood for whatever it is they’re showing. And the other thing that’s nice about it too is I’ve seen some presentations done in there. To have a PowerPoint, you can have it in different areas so everyone in the theater can see it.”
Another entertainment highlight is the pool screen according to Jenner. “What you should do is hang out in your chair. They’ll bring you popcorn. You’ll have seat-side service for the pizza, Dive-In burger[s], gelato. And you just sit there and watch the movie, and they’ll bring it to you. So, you can have your snacks and everything, and it’s a lot of fun. They bring you a blanket. It’s really cool. I like it a lot.”
What does this all mean for the cruise market and targeting specific groups or ages? Jenner added, “We don’t look at it as far as demographics…We at Carnival Corporation have done a segmentation study for all the Carnival brands. Instead of looking at demographics, we’ve been looking at psychographics. And looking at that we have targeted our ideal guest as the globetrotting learner, someone who wants to be immersed in the destination when they get there and have authentic experiences. They love traveling and learning about where they’re going to.
“So what we’ve been doing is enhancing our product to add elements. We have the partnership with AFAR right now, and they’ve been helping us put together destination guides. So you have a third-party expert who’s coming in and giving us information about the destinations, and we pass that on to our travel agent partners as well as our guests so that they can create the experience that they want depending on what their interest is.” Other partnerships that speak to this mentality are with BBC Earth and even the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands for a forthcoming new art program.
So far, we concur with all of her findings as we continue exploring the Koningsdam on our own this week. Jenner concluded to say, “We’re hoping that the elements that we’ve added onboard this particular ship will really appeal to the globetrotting market. So whether that person is a millennial, whether that person is traveling with his or her family, there’s something for everyone onboard.”
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