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NCL's Herrera reports 'very strong' Black Friday and urges agents 'Sell more Europe'

NCL President David Herrera, left, with Kelley Rodriguez, VP brand, partnerships & creative, and John Chernesky, SVP North America sales, on a Norwegian Viva panel for travel advisors
Norwegian Cruise Line had a 'very strong' Black Friday/Cyber Monday, President David Herrera said, adding he sees no sign of eastern Mediterranean issues impacting demand for Europe travel.

Still, he urged travel advisors to sell more Europe.

'I am very happy about our performance,' Herrera said in a one-to-one interview with Seatrade Cruise News aboard the newly named Norwegian Viva. 'Black Friday and Cyber Monday are usually a pretty good indication of how you're going to do in wave. And, knock on wood ...'

KPIs are A-OK

He elaborated NCL's seeing no impact from the Israel situation on three KPIs — gross bookings, product lead generation and cancellations. And Europe bookings are coming in now.

'If you're waiting until wave to sell Europe, you're probably going to be getting a price that's lower than you want,' he said.

Alaska's on pace

Earlier, on a global sales and marketing panel for travel advisors, Herrera urged: 'Sell more Europe. Alaska's doing OK. Alaska's on pace. 'Are we desperate for Europe? No,' he continued.

It's just that NCL is 'being proactive, using analytics and being thoughtful about where we want to be six to nine months from now.'

Some advisors still focus on Caribbean sales, while NCL is a 'contemporary brand sailing to premium destinations,' in the words of John Chernesky, VP North American sales. 

According to Herrera, 'We haven't abandoned the Caribbean at all. Our nominal growth in the Caribbean continues. We still need Caribbean sales. It's just been outpaced by places like Europe and Alaska. Give me more Europe and Alaska bookings from May to October.'

He said NCL's crafted enticing nine-day cruises from Athens and Barcelona; advisors should focus on these and take advantage of the line's marketing and sales support tools.

Riffing on Frank Del Rio

Subsequently, in a one-to-one interview, Herrera clarified: 'When I tell [travel advisors] we need help in Europe and Alaska ... I always need help in Europe and Alaska. You should never be satisfied.'

He recounted how Frank Del Rio used to joke that his epitaph would read 'Never fall behind the booking curve.'

If you fall behind and have to discount, Herrera said, you can't magically increase price when you finally hit target load factor.

And, of course, NCL continues Del Rio's 'market to fill' strategy.

Analytical prowess

But now the line has greater analytical prowess to do that, thanks to the work of Ben Lightfoot, VP marketing analytics, and Adam Malone, chief marketing officer, together with Google and Digitas, NCL's global media agency of record. This is bolstering empirical data to guide decision-making.

So, when it comes to marketing, 'We are more ROI-focused and it absolutely is paying off,' Herrera said. 'Our demand generation in terms of leads is at record highs.'