Regent flags key luxury opportunity

Regent Seven Seas Cruises will deploy one of its latest generation ships in Australasian waters this summer, with the arrival of Seven Seas Explorer seen as an opportunity to further raise the brand's profile in the local market.

A year into the job, Regent Seven Seas Cruises Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Andrea DeMarco is enthusiastic about the “different type of selling” she is now deeply enmeshed in. Because while sales is clearly in her blood, she’s more used to pitching cruise lines to investors than to passengers. In a meeting earlier this week she told travelBulletin  she was in fact “a big finance geek”.

“I actually came to Regent’s parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, to take them public in 2013. I developed the investor relations department, and corporate communications and then I took on ESG (environmental, social and governance) which is one of the hot topics nowadays. So I built all three of those departments from scratch and for the last nine years I’ve been the face of the company to Wall Street, really selling the stock if you will, and then decided to come back into the brand, in product sales and marketing and public relations here at Regent,” DeMarco said.

DeMarco took on the newly created role of Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Regent Seven Seas just over 12 months ago – meaning she was particularly busy in the prior two years of the pandemic during which NCLH successfully raised about US$10 billion to help keep things afloat.

For now, however, it’s all about Regent. Visiting Australia for the first time since she came to Sydney at the age of 16 (as part of a dance troupe!), DeMarco was supremely optimistic about the prospects for the ultra-luxury brand.

“Things are really aligning for luxury, we’re right in the sweet spot. Especially in this market, we’re the leader in luxury, and it took us some time to build having gone from a GSA model to the local team really taking over and developing the market. And as we think to the future, we’re going to hold that title of the leading luxury cruise line here,” she promised.

The fundamentals are strong, DeMarco noted, with the post-COVID phenomenon of people wanting to travel “right” and having changed their purchasing behaviours. “People want luxury experiences, they want to treat themselves after being stuck at home for years at a time. People are ready to explore the world and they value that travel more than they did pre-pandemic…that trend is alive and well,” she said.

Internal research backs up these drivers, DeMarco noted – but the proof is also in the pudding, with every new program launch by Regent resulting in record booking days. Key to the success is the spectacular new ships being operated by Regent, including Regent Seven Seas Explorer which is finally set to visit Australia for the upcoming summer season. There’s also sister ships Regent Seven Seas Splendor and the upcoming Regent Seven Seas Grandeur which is on schedule to debut in November 2023, along with earlier vessels which DeMarco noted were still very popular with guests.

Regent’s value proposition is also important, DeMarco noted. Although its fares are high resulting in initial “sticker shock” for some customers, bookings flow once they understand the value of the all-inclusive proposition which means there’s nothing at all to pay for once the cruise fare has been finalised. That includes pre and/or post hotel stays, thousands of shore excursion options, premium beverages, specialty dining, wifi access and more, with Regent having produced resources including a comparison chart to help travel advisors communicate the message. And that all-inclusive nature also means resellers can earn commission on every component of the cruise holiday, with support for the trade channel a key part of Regent’s strategy going forward, she said.

DeMarco told travelBulletin the company had undertaken extensive research into the “personas” of potential customers, with the results to be shared with the industry in a new regionalised partnership program launching later this year. “We’re going to be investing heavily in the trade channel,” she said, with other initiatives such as the newly launched partnership with David Jones as well as other agreements with organisations such as the Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet and the NSW Art Gallery helping raise the Regent profile and drive enquiry for the brand.



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