MSC Cruises will introduce a new fare structure in the UK next year as it looks to support higher pricing as demanded by agents.
Chief executive Gianni Onorato revealed the cruise line’s plans for the UK market as he welcomed Giles Hawke on his first day as the Italian line’s managing director for the UK and Ireland.
Some of MSC’s European markets already use a price structure based on the ‘experience’ on board rather than cabin type, and
Onorato said there were plans to introduce the structure to the UK next year.
“We have four experiences – Yacht Club, Aurea, Bella and Fantastica,” he said. The Bella fares, for example, offer a basic experience, while the Yacht Club experience includes a butler service, all drinks, sun deck and more.
Onorato said MSC’s experience price structure had not yet been offered in the UK because the line did not enjoy the level of brand awareness it does in other markets. But he added: “It will be ready in 2014. The structure is totally different from other cruise lines’. It will help us reach different customers.”
Onorato said agents had been calling for MSC to increase prices and for more knowledge of the product.
Onorato said the company had shown its dedication to the UK by increasing capacity in Southampton. And he said MSC could potentially dedicate a ship to the UK market.
MSC is also poised to announce a major refit of some or all of its four 1,500-passenger Lirica class ships. The line plans to stretch the ships to add up to 800 cabins across the fleet.
Meanwhile, Hawke, former sales and customer services director at Carnival UK, sought to reassure agents of his dedication to the trade, saying he would not “slash commission”, which is currently 10-14%.
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