Virgin Voyages seeks Aussie mates

THE launch of the Virgin Voyages cruise product into the local market last month certainly got the industry talking. Announced during the Cruise360 conference by Virgin Voyages CEO, Tom McAlpin, a new agreement will see Travel the World represent the fledgling flamboyant line locally, with Australian travel agents — described as ‘First Mates’ — set to earn a generous 10% base commission on all components of the cruise fare, along with a target-based annual bonus.

The first season may be a hard sell, with the ship’s inaugural vessel, Scarlet Lady, set to operate short cruises out of Port Miami in Florida. However McAlpin noted that itineraries can be booked back-to-back, with the Virgin Voyages business plan targeting adventurous, fun-loving adults of all ages. The company is already working with First Mates in the USA, Canada and the UK, but is also expecting strong interest from Australians due to Virgin’s high levels of brand recognition locally. With four vessels on order, it’s unlikely that a Virgin Voyages ship will appear in local waters for some time, but in typical Virgin fashion McAlpin left the possibility open. “We never say never,” he told travelBulletin.

Virgin Voyages and Travel The World will kick off a training roadshow this month, showcasing the brand to travel advisors in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Virgin promises a “rebellious luxe” experience for passengers (sailors) with the inclusive offering featuring free fitness classes, free dining at 20+ onboard eateries, free gratuities, free soft drinks and free wi-fi. And in a major innovation there are no non-commissionable fares (NCFs), with agents earning commission on the entire transaction including shore excursions, spa treatments and even on-board credit.

Andrew Millmore, Travel the World; Tom McAlpin, Virgin Voyages and Shane Riley, Travel the World