Joe Maloney is currently the Vice President of US Sales and Marketing for Scenic Cruises. He comes with a strong background in sales and marketing and served as VP of Customer Engagement at The Travel Corp, championing the very successful development of Data Governance, CRM Development, and CRM Adoption across all of the company’s brands on a global basis. Joe previously was VP of National Accounts and CRM at Insight Vacations (a division of The Travel Corp) and, prior to Insight, was the VP of Sales for its sister company, Trafalgar.
TRO: Scenic Cruises’ parent company, Australian based Scenic Tours, has been around for several years. How did the idea come about to start Scenic Cruises?
J.M.: Scenic Tours is based in Sydney, Australia and has been serving clients on worldwide tours for almost 30 years. The company is owned by Glen Moroney, who started with a few local tours and then grew it into one of the world’s largest luxury tour operators. Scenic had tested river cruises with clients by chartering some ships and then decided to build their own river cruise ships. A new chapter for Scenic Tours began in 2008 with the launch of Scenic Cruises and our exclusive Scenic “Space-Ships” in Europe.
TRO: Who are the ideal cruise guests for Scenic Cruises?
J.M.: The ideal guests for Scenic Cruises are luxury clients. They’ve taken ocean cruises on lines that include Regent Seven Seas, Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Seabourn. They have taken luxury tours with companies like A&K or Tauck. They’re accustomed to staying at high-end resorts and enjoy all-inclusive experiences.We also target river cruise travelers who are interested in a five-star product line.
TRO: How many ships does Scenic Cruises have and where do they sail?
J.M.: Our fleet includes 12 Scenic “Space-Ships” and they sail on the rivers in Europe and Russia. Scenic ships are designed to offer more space in the suites and public areas. On average our suites are 22% larger than ships of the same size and our public rooms are 24% larger. (We prefer to use the term “suites” when referring to our guest accommodations.)
TRO: Your two newest “Space-Ships” include the Scenic Gem and the Scenic Jade. How do they compare in size?
J.M.: The Scenic Gem accommodates 128 passengers and was built to be able to fit in the smaller locks of the lower Seine River, so that we can take clients all the way to Honfleur and close to the Normandy beaches. The Scenic Jade, which accommodates 169 guests, is similar to our other ships that are the maximum length of 443 feet.
TRO: Most of the suites on the Scenic Gem and Scenic Jade have full walk-out balconies including the “Sun Lounge” factor. Can you explain a bit more?
J.M.: It is a wonderful feature, because our guests can just push a single button to convert the balcony space into an all-weather lounge. Our cruise guests do not need to close the door to the balcony if they don’t want to, making the balcony a “sun lounge” area of their suite. The railing on the deck contains two panels of glass, with one that can be raised or lowered as needed.
TRO: What itineraries does Scenic Cruises offer on their ships?
J.M.: We offer basically one week and two week trips that include the Rhine, Main, Danube, Rhone, Seine, Bordeaux, and the St. Petersburg to Moscow series of rivers, canals, and lakes.
TRO: Scenic Cruises notes they are “all-inclusive.” Can you include a few more details and specifics on what is actually included?
J.M.: Our “all–inclusive” approach is one that really elevates our guests’ experiences when they sail with us. Our guests can enjoy all meals with up to 6 dining venues onboard to select from. (This is very unusual because other river cruise lines have fewer dining choices.) All drinks anytime (including wine, beer and spirits), butler service for all cabins, prepaid tips and gratuities while on board and on shore are also included. In addition, our guests can enjoy all shore excursions at no extra cost. These include more choices than any other line through our exclusive Scenic Enrich and Scenic Sundowner events. Our e-bikes and our proprietary GPS system – Tailor-made – fit perfectly for those cruise guests who want to go out on their own. Also included are return airport transfers in Europe, WiFi throughout the ship, and an in-suite mini-bar that is restocked daily.
TRO: What are the dining venues onboard?
J.M.: The Crystal Dining Room seats all guests with three wonderful meals per day, while Portobello’s is a 32 seat Italian dining experience for all. Table LaRive is an intimate 10 seat, 6 course, wine pairing experience just for guests on the top deck and in Junior Suites on deck two. Riverside Café is an all day deli, there is Alfresco dining for lunch on the top deck and room service is available.
TRO: Scenic Cruises has been making efforts to target US guests. What types of marketing efforts are you doing and how do you work with travel agent professionals across the US?
J.M.: We started this year with a focus on “grassroots” marketing in an effort to communicate with as many front line agents as possible to explain the unique features of Scenic Cruises, so that the agents can match the right clients with our product. We’ve also expanded our sales team to provide onsite and online training, have hosted numerous webinars that have provided tremendous partnerships, and have also launched our Scenic Cruises Specialist online training site.
TRO: What do you feel makes Scenic Cruises stand out from your competitors?
J.M.: At Scenic Cruises we focus on providing extensive choices for our guests. We are committed when It comes to providing an all-inclusive luxury product with innovative ships and on-shore choices so clients can have the best experience possible on their river cruise. Definitely unique is the way we elevate the river cruise experience. Scenic Cruises includes having butler service in all our suites, 6 dining choices, more spacious rooms and Sun Lounge balconies. Our Scenic Enrich and Sundowner exclusive events provide more choices than anyone else for shore excursions. These are all included in the price.
Scenic Cruises recently launched the Scenic Specialist program, an online program offering travel professionals the ability to become Scenic Cruises specialists. Graduates of the course earn a number of special incentives. Click here to see the program: http://www.sceniccruisescourse.com