From Uche Usim, Barcelona, Spain
President/Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley has described Nigeria as a growing market for the intercontinental cruise line, assuring that the company would continually work with sales agents and other stakeholders to grow the market.
Speaking yesterday at a press briefing in Barcelona aboard the company’s latest ship-Harmony of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean boss added that that Nigeria is doing well in terms of selling cruises within the West African sub-region.
“The Nigerian market is small but it is growing. We’ve continued to see more and more bookings and guests from Africa and particularly in Nigeria. We’ve an office in Nigeria. Our intention, just like we do the world over, is to work with a variety of partners and General Sales Agents (GSA) and International Representatives in different countries. We build the markets together and that’s what we’re doing in Nigeria”, he explained.
Bayley also revealed that plans are afoot to market the cruises to more African nations using the agents as well.
“Travel agencies are a major part of our operations and we’ll always work with them. 80-90% of our sales come through them. Travel partners explain the complexities of our operations. It’s something you need to let people know what you’re offering them. You need to understand their concerns and yearnings and meet these yearnings. That’s the backbone of our existence. We’re always trying to meet customers’ needs. For Harmony for instance, it’s a perfect stuff for family.
On the cost and safety features onboard the latest ship, Bayley disclosed that Harmony of the Seas cost $1.5 billion and took three years to build.
“Prior to that, the ship took one and half years for conceptualization and design. Safety and size is our focus. That’s the foundation. We’ve got remarkable safety in our DNA. The ship meets all international safety parameters and got all the needed regulatory approvals”, he said.
On the hiccups experienced during the pre-inaugural sail out of Southampton, Bayley said the issues raised by customers were not out of place as there is always a need for finishing touches whenever a ship with such complexities is launched.
“We had two short cruises, a four-day and a three-day when the Harmony of the Seas was launched and we had finishing touches to put in place. We had some workers onboard to finish up the jobs. The perception we had from some our guests was that there was too much work going on. Obviously that wasn’t what we intended to do and we wrote to those guests individually and we gave them 50 per cent discount on future cruises alongside my apology as things were not as perfect as we would have wanted them to be. We just finished the first cruise to Barcelona and guest satisfaction for Harmony of the Seas shattered our records. It was absolutely phenomenal”, he added.
The travel agents for the pre-inaugural cruise in Barcelona include: Mrs Victoria Soluade, MD/CEO Soltan Travels and Tours; Mrs Bimbo Durosinmi Etti, MD/CEO Traveltron Limited; Mrs Tinuke Nwakohu, MD/CEO Aviator Travels and Tours; Mrs Arit Tunde-Imoyo, MD/CEO Travel Plans and Tours Limited, Inge Cross, International Representative for Africa, Royal Caribbean International and journalists from The Sun, Nigerian Tribune and Television Continental.