Interview: Lynn Narraway UK and Ireland managing director, Seabourn
With two new classic ships, and two expedition ships on order, Seabourn has expanded its sales team to capitalise on opportunities in the UK.
Q. What is your definition of luxury?
A. Luxury has different connotations for all of us. Seabourn’s luxury is about the service we deliver to our guests and the amazing team onboard, who are from the hospitality industry. Luxury for our guests is also a personalised experience, and the experiences they can do with Seabourn that they maybe can’t do on other types of holidays.
Q. What impact has the launch of Seabourn Ovation had on business?
A. We have five ships, including Seabourn Encore, which we launched last year, and Seabourn Ovation, which debuted this year. Whenever we add a ship to the fleet, it provides us with a big opportunity. The UK market is really important to Seabourn and our British guests are some of the most loyal guests we have. This is our 30th anniversary year which is really exciting and the combination of that and the new ship means we’ve had the most amazing year.
Q. Tell us more about your new expedition ships.
A. The luxury traveller is constantly looking for innovation and new experiences, and we recently announced that we’ve got two ultra-luxury expedition ships coming in 2021 and 2022. They’re smaller, with a couple of submarines onboard. This is something that has been born out of our onboard Ventures programme, which started in Antarctica with the use of kayaks and our Zodiacs. With Seabourn, the land experience is just as important as the onboard experience. The smaller ships will give us even more opportunity to go into ports that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to get into otherwise.
Q. What sets the expedition ships apart?
A. We don’t have a lot of detail yet, but it will be the Seabourn experience; it’ll still be ultra-luxury. The consistency is really important to us across the whole fleet. And we’re looking to introduce new destinations as well, of course.
Q. You’ve added two recruits to your sales team. What impact will that have?
A. As we grow, and the more ships we have, the more opportunity there is for the UK market. It’s important that the service our guests expect is delivered and it’s also important that we’re able to deliver that service to our agent partners. It’s exciting to have two new business development representatives – Emma Paolino and Matt Betteridge. They’ve both come from within the group, so they already have some background in Carnival Corporation and the different brands. One is going to be supporting the business development manager in the north and one in the south, but they’ll have their own travel partners to work with as well.
Q. What share of your client base is from the UK?
A. It’s the second-largest market behind the US and Canada. The overall international market is larger than the US market, and the UK is really important.
Q. How are you targeting UK customers?
A. What we don’t want to do is to move guests around from cruise line to cruise line. As an industry, we need to grow the whole cruise market. The opportunity is with the luxury traveller and offering them something that they’ve never really thought of before. We need to sell it to them as an experience and tell the whole story before revealing at the very end of the conversation that it’s actually on a ship.
Q. What are your thoughts about the overall growth of the cruise sector?
A. You see more growth in the luxury hotel sector, so that’s where we’re also looking for growth. It’s fantastic – the more cruise ships that are built, the better, because it’s good for the entire market. As an industry, we can’t build ships quickly enough. We’re delighted that we’ve had two in the past two years. All our ships have been built since 2010, so we’ve got one of the youngest fleets on the seas. And now we’ve got two more (expedition ships) coming, which will take us to seven.
Q. What are your thoughts on new entrants, such as Virgin Voyages and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, to the cruise market?
A. It’s great, because it brings more profile and more opportunity. The more marketing we can do as cruise lines and ultra-luxury cruise lines is fantastic because then the consumer has more awareness and sees more profile for the cruise industry.