P&O Cruises and Cunard hosted hundreds of its Shine Rewards Club agents at a Phileas Fogg-themed surprise party.  Harry Kemble reports.

Sitting in a room at Spring Grove House, Alex Delamere-White and Angus Struthers are plotting the future of their lines’ agent loyalty programme – Shine Rewards Club.

The programme, which launched in 2017, allows agents to earn points through selling cruises and engaging with either brand by completing training modules. Points can be exchanged for designer goods, experience days and even a cruise.

“We will better it,” says Delamere-White, P&O Cruises’ vice-president of sales and marketing. “It is difficult when you start a programme like this, because you don’t know how big it will be.”

Struthers, Cunard’s vice-president of marketing and UK sales, says: “We have
got to keep innovating to keep it special and different.”

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A show of gratitude

Two floors below, 300 travel agents from across the country are enjoying drinks and nibbles at the first-ever Shine Surprises Party. Both lines threw the party to thank agents for their work and engagement with Shine.

Until now the party location had been kept top secret, with only event organisers knowing exactly where the inaugural celebration would be held. Winners were picked at random from a pool of 2,000 agents from across the industry.

The theme of the evening is Phileas Fogg – Jules Verne’s fictional explorer who travelled around the world in 80 days.

At the front of the house, Fogg and his wife Aouda welcome Shine Rewards members as they arrive at the Georgian manor house near Kidderminster, Worcestershire, with band Hyde Park Brass whipping up the atmosphere.

Inside, agents can have their picture taken with a snake called Mia, enjoy gin cocktails and relax in a Moroccan souk.

“Tonight is about agents having fun – it’s not a sales pitch,” Struthers says.

Delamere-White and Struthers have both overseen the remarkable rise of Shine Rewards Club. P&O Cruises launched the scheme in December 2017, before Cunard set up its own branded version about six months ago.

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Incentives and engagement

Today, across the two programmes, the brands have attracted more than 20,000 agent members.

Delamere-White says: “Shine is much more than a booking incentive – it is also an engagement platform. Launching Shine was all about building loyalty and motivating more people to sell cruise. It has exceeded expectations.

“Eighteen months ago, we did not have Shine – now 85% of P&O Cruises’ bookings are logged on Shine.”

Struthers says more than 20,000 training modules have been completed on Cunard’s Shine Rewards Club site since November – 12,000 more than over the same period the year before.

“Cunard is in a different place to P&O Cruises,” Struthers adds. “For us, it is about getting agents to engage with Cunard to sell it with confidence. We want to show that we are an approachable brand and one you will have a fantastic holiday with. There are still misconceptions that Cunard is overly stuffy.”

Delamere-White has high hopes for Shine to drive business as P&O Cruises prepares to welcome two new 5,200-passenger ships over the next four years.

“Shine is a great vehicle for us to encourage more investment in both brands,” he adds.

“The question is, what next? There are thousands of travel agents out there that are not selling cruise and want to get into selling cruise. We have step changes in capacity growth coming.

“Travel agents will play a critical role with that.”