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Silversea's Joe Leon on new groups tier, powerful ships, new team members

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'We've got a big year ahead of us and ... we're having fun,' said Silversea's Joe Leon, VP sales, the Americas
Fueled by a new groups tier, generous wave promotion, high-profile ships and strengthened sales team, Silversea Cruises' 2024 has begun on a high note, according to Joe Leon, VP sales - the Americas.

Heading into wave season, Silversea enhanced its groups program, introducing a new 'super advantage' tier that lets the eighth guest sail free when seven guests pay the full fare on a wide range of cruises. The offer includes $300 shipboard credit per suite and a minimum 15% commission (after four suites are sold).

Price protection guarantee extended

Moreover, Silversea’s price protection guarantee was extended from 90 days to 120 days from group opening, and no deposits are required to open group shells. This offer is combinable with door-to-door, port-to-port, extended voyages savings and on-board savings programs.

'The purpose was to provide this as a marketing tool to go out with increased amenities and a value proposition our travel advisors can use to increase market awareness and their profits,' Leon told Seatrade Cruise News.

'It's a no-risk program. The only thing they have to invest is time and effort to promote groups, and the rewards can be significant,' he said.

Leon described the response as 'very positive,' adding: 'Our top partners are definitely taking advantage of this even though they're already earning 15%.'

Good wave season start

The 'super advantage' groups tier was rolled out in December along with the company's 'very generous' up to $4,000 savings per suite, making a good start to wave season, Leon said.

He added now is the time for travel partners to get customers booked since the wave offer's Feb. 29 deadline looms.

The 'super advantage' tier will continue as a staple of the groups program.

Silver Nova and Silver Ray

Leon called 2023's Silver Nova 'very successful,' with a big market response to the ship's dramatically different design, layout and technology. And sister Silver Ray, joining in June, is 'doing great.'

Silversea plans to host a large number of trade partners at launch events for the ship, which is debuting in Lisbon and will mirror Silver Nova's inaugural season, first sailing in the Mediterranean, then to New York and along the US East Coast to Florida and operating the early 2025 circle South America cruise.

Leon said sales efforts are buoyed by Silversea's high awareness and media coverage, and he credited the Monaco public relations team led by Marina Vivian for elevating the brand's profile on social media and Brad Ball in Florida for his strong media relationships in the Americas, resulting in amplified coverage.

Sales team additions

In late 2023 Leon made what he called 'some big enhancements on the US trade sales side.'

He hired Tim Amm, a seasoned former expedition leader, as director of expedition sales - West, based in California, and Kristin Ertz, formerly Hurtigruten national accounts director, as director of expedition sales - East, based in Toronto.

Jennifer Tanaka was promoted to senior director, key accounts, replacing Chaz Dunwoody, who left the company. Kelly Bigel, formerly VP membership at ASTA, became senior director, field sales.

'Pain points' addressed

'We've got a big year ahead of us and ... we're having fun,' Leon said, after what he called some 'pain points' were addressed.

A big one: Silversea now works with Royal Caribbean Group's air services team, benefiting from their size and technology to rapidly generate tickets. This provides better support to travel advisors, especially when booking door-to-door fares.

It's a 'universe of difference,' Leon said.