Virus of fear
'There are two viruses — the very serious coronavirus but, equally as serious, the virus of fear,' said Vicki Freed, SVP sales and trade support & service, Royal Caribbean International.
Overcoming the fear is what the group's new 'Cruise With Confidence' 48-hour cancellation policy is designed to do.
'It gives clients a safety net,' Freed said during a live webcast Friday that drew nearly 4,500 travel advisors — a hefty number.
She maintained shipboard environments are 'very clean' and said advisors can disseminate the cruise lines' sanitation information and additional protocols such as her company's effective-immediately mandatory temperature screening prior to embarkation.
The ability to cancel up to just 48 hours prior to sailing at no penalty is 'extremely generous,' according to Dondra Ritzenthaler, SVP sales and trade support & service, Celebrity Cruises.
'Get them to stay'
'We're doing everything to instill confidence,' she said. ''Go out and be so confident in getting your guest to stay on their cruise. We really want to motivate you to get them to stay.'
Carol Cabezas, chief operating officer, Azamara, told advisors to tell ciients: 'You don't lose. You might as well hang on.'
Freed said the 'Cruise With Confidence' policy, announced today, generated immediate and extremely positive feedback from retail partners.
Call center: Bookings are sticking
During the mid-afternoon webcast, she reported more than 90% of the call center conversations to that point indicated people were keeping their booking.
Those who do cancel get a 100% future cruise credit to be applied to any sailing in 2020 or 2021.
'If they cancel, make sure you get the customer to book the future cruise with you,' Ritzenthaler said, and encourage rebooking in 2020.
Reach out — but wash your hands
Freed said the worst thing travel partners can do is disengage: 'Your clients want to be reassured. Be proactive: Reach out to your clients.
'We are going to get over this hurdle,' Freed assured. 'We're with you, we're in this with you.'
As a sign-off note, she added: 'Wash your hands.'