Norwegian to Revamp Reservations Team with “Universal Agents”
By Theresa Norton Masek
August 07, 2012 11:10 PM
Norwegian Cruise Line is restructuring its reservations team to create “Universal Reservations Agents” whose motto will be “One Call Does It All.” The program, revealed Aug. 7 during a travel agent webinar with top Norwegian executives, will be rolled out later this year.
The new Universal Reservations Agent will be able to handle any type of call, said Crane Gladding, senior vice president-revenue management and passenger services. “As you call in, you don’t have to call in a group booking to one department and call in a FIT booking to another,” he said. “We want to make it as efficient for you as possible.”
Also in the works is a new group amenities program that will feature dollar amounts instead of points. The change was designed so it requires “no translation” and results in “no confusion.” The new group program is also due out later this year.
As part of its Partners First program, which is designed to enhance Norwegian’s relationship with travel agents, the company is investing another $12.6 million in new and improved technology for agents.
The webinar also touched on the subject of direct bookings, which Camille Olivere, senior vice president of sales, said decreased slightly this year. A webinar slide said Norwegian has “a complete commitment to our travel partners on direct business,” adding that the company does not use customer data from travel agent bookings for direct bookings and asks every person who calls directly if they are working with a travel agent before conducting any further business. Plus, direct business has no price advantage, the company said.
Further, the company is launching more promotions with added-value items as incentives to book as opposed to price discounts to protect agent commission.
Also announced were the new members of the NCL University advisory board. The company received 76 nominations and selected eight members for the board. They are Christipher Cardona of Cruise Planners in Florida, Cheryl Echevarria of Echevarria Travel in New York, Debra Gordon of Mei Travel in New York, Dave Holman of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in California, Janet Locanthi of Journey Tours International in New York, Mike Santalucia of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in New York, Pat Shouldice of Cruise Adventure 4 U in New Jersey and Richard Stieff of Cruise Brothers in Florida.
Also, committee members planning the PhD@Sea Reunion Cruise are Tony Fiore of Cruising Unlimited in Florida, Anna Peabody of Smart Travel Escapes in Minnesota, and Lisa Schindler of Caprice Travel Agents in New York.