Royal Caribbean has an “aggressive” plan to drive sales in the final quarter of 2021 and into 2022 as it looks to regain ground lost during the pandemic.
Speaking at an event for top trade partners, vice-president EMEA Ben Bouldin said a strong performance in Q4 was essential for the line to meet internal targets and said he was optimistic it could be delivered.
Bouldin said Royal’s direct sales channels were performing strongly, but the trade remained at the core of its strategy, with huge investment in marketing and partnerships including its new ‘Royal Flush’ scheme to encourage package sales through agents.
Bouldin said: “We have a very aggressive plan for 2022. We’ve not been able to make the sort of money and revenues that we have enjoyed for the last few years and our plan is to get back on track.
“That will see us sail with more guests in 2022 that sailed with us in 2019. That feels like a stiff challenge so we can’t wait until 2022 to start.”
He added: “We’re pushing the agenda now because we need to get a lot of passengers booking. We’re not in a bad position bookings-wise, but we need to get moving.
“In 2018/19, September and October were almost as big in terms of bookings as January, February and March. We’re a bit late for September, so we have to go now.”
Bouldin admitted sales were complicated by a lack of detail over reopening schedules and restrictions onboard ships departing from the US.
But he said Royal was investing more in advertising and marketing than it had done previously to capitalise on pent-up demand.
He said: “We’ll spend more in Q4 then we’ve ever spent in Wave and we will continue to spend through 2022. TV advertising will break in late October/early November and it will be heavy, in all the primetime shows. It’s already broken in the US so the engine is moving and we’re going to go for it.”
He added: “We’re putting our money where our mouth is. We have 10 more ships on order and haven’t cancelled any. I’m about to recruit 22 new people in my team alone, so there are lots of reasons to be optimistic.
“But let’s give it a real push. We need to bring the fire. Our efforts now will maybe be paid back in January. We will either look foolish and a bit gung-ho or it will absolutely pay off.”
Bouldin said the line would face other complexities in the coming months, including more than a million future cruise credits in the market globally.
But he insisted the line was equipped to cope as it prepared to further extend its fleet.
“With ships like Odyssey and Wonder coming, we’ve got a pipeline of hardware that’s very enviable and gives us the chance to be even better than before,” he said.
“This is a category where patience and resilience will pay off. Get ready for October, because it’s game time.”