Paul Allen, Vice President of Sales for Holland America has been part of that family since 1981 and he’s known as the guy with all the numbers. I recently saw him, as a passenger on a full ship charter for the Smooth Jazz Cruise. He was loving the music, enjoying himself, even was seen waiting in line for autographs. Just talking to him, he is a prime example of a Renaissance man!
TRO: Since this is one of many full ship charters with Jazz Cruises, LLC. what are you learning from seeing it first hand.
PA: It’s fantastic, certainly, if you provide this caliber of entertainment, the people will come. They’re doing a great job.
TRO: With a lot of attention lately, on the bigger mega ships, HAL remains the mainstream niche with smaller vessels with less than 2000 passenger count. What’s new for HAL?
PA: By next July, we’ll have 15 ships going to over 300 ports on seven continents. We do try to add 3 new ports or shore excursions each year.
TRO: What about onboard the ships?
PA: We believe in evolution instead of revolution. We’ve started our Lanai accommodations – taking about 40 cabins that were outside cabins and created French doors so the passengers can walk out of their cabin directly onto the promenade. Also we’ve added onboard Cabanas. We’ve had great success with them on Half Moon Cay. Some alternative dining at no charge. And Maribella, our higher end jewelry store.
TRO: HAL was one of the first cruise lines to offer a World Cruise.
PA: We find the clients now love to sail over 20 days, our Collector Voyages. Especially in Europe. We don’t do the same itinerary in a row- purposely. We found that people want to book back to backs.
TRO:HAL was always known for its appeal for the older passengers. You’ve had success with your Club Hal program for children. Have you been successful with attracting the slightly younger adult crowd?
PA: Our average age now is 55. We are getting a lot of family reunions as well. Speaking of that, agents should be aware of the extra offerings for Family Reunions -automatic upgrade for the head of the family. Shore excursions at net cost, and other amenities.
TRO:You used to have great sales collateral touting these extra benefits.
PA: We’ve cut down on the collateral since everything is online. But agents can call in and get collateral or go the website. We’re focusing more on our website – 70 to 80% of the research on a sailing is done online – by the consumer as well as the agents.
TRO:Some companies have their BDMs contact only the top producers in their territory. What is HAL’s policy?
PA: Home based agents are HAL’s mainstay. BDMs are supposed to meet one new account a week – they’re goal watching. Our inside agents are making contact as well. So it is successful.
TRO:Let’s talk loyalty. Passengers do remain loyal to HAL, but sometimes not loyal to the agents.
PA: We find that 50% retain the same agent.
TRO: Why only 50%- what do you think the problem is?
PA: Agents should think – what can a travel seller do to enrich the experience. When making group presentations, they should bring in an expert in that itinerary. Professors, archeology, lecturers. Excite the client about where they can go. Create a palette – shelf space cannot drive the business
TRO: What are you doing in your spare time?
PA: Learning Chinese – getting ready for a new destination
TRO: What has been your favorite vacation?
PA: Probably doing the Black Sea. I love the history of that area. I lived in Paris for two years, and I love Europe.
TRO: And on your bucket list….?
PA: Antarctica – and glad that we have a ship that goes there.