Book-A-BDM with NCL

Increasing demand among travellers, waiting for months to take forward their global travel plans has made the job of cruise companies a little easier. Braydon Holland, Senior Director of Sales, Asia, NCL, discusses the company’s strategy for India and the Asian markets.

Hazel Jain

A lot of effort will need to be put into PR and marketing to revive cruise tourism. What have been NCL’s efforts towards this so far?

The key to restoring confidence in cruise is ensuring that our travel partners and the travelling public are aware of our comprehensive health, hygiene, and safety protocols, which guide every touchpoint of their journey with us.

Our multi-layered Sail Safe health and safety programme has been developed in partnership with scientific experts, and at its cornerstone is the requirement for all crew and guests to be vaccinated to get on our ships. This requirement is the safest way to cruise, together with pandemic protocols such as COVID-19 testing, medical-grade air filtration, and a dedicated public health officer on every ship to oversee health safety and hygiene.

Also, next year we will launch our brand new ship, the Norwegian Prima. It represents the first new class of ships for NCL in a decade. She’s the most spacious new cruise ship in the premium and contemporary categories, with more wide-open spaces and elegant design, taking it cruising up a notch from August 2022.

We are also doubling down on our travel partners as part of our Partners First Commitment. For example, we have just launched a brand-new platform — ‘Book-A-BDM’— that will give travel agents direct access to our local Business Development Managers (BDMs) in India, at a time and in a way that suits them. The partners will be able to quickly book a one-hour personal session with their local BDM, either over the telephone or via Zoom, to discuss group bookings, sales event planning support, marketing and promotions with the NCL, or a general NCL product, itinerary, and destination update. .

Tell us about the pent-up demand for cruising globally, and especially in Asia?

As the borders open, vaccination programmes accelerate and confidence returns, travellers are seeking out new travel experiences that make up for the many months spent in lockdown. Since cruising offers this and much more, it is at the top of many travellers’ bucket lists. In fact, we’ve seen that happen shortly after we announced our new ship, the Norwegian Prima.  She became our most in-demand ship ever, notching up the single best booking day and best initial booking week for any new cruise ship in our
55-year history.

We successfully restarted our cruise operations on July 25, 2021, with Norwegian Jade sailing the Greek Isles. By April, our full fleet will be back at sea, including the Norwegian Sun, which will debut in Asia next year. Now that we are seeing the resumption of cruises following a more than 500-day suspension, travel partners and travellers alike are starting to recognise that to enjoy a 2022 or 2023 cruise, now is the time to book.

What marketing strategy will NCL employ in 2022 to bring back bookings from India?

India is an incredibly important market for NCL. As part of our ‘Partners First’ philosophy, we’re doubling down on our investment in the travel trade in India, developing tools and resources that will help travel partners maximise their selling potential. One such example is our newly launched ‘Book-A-BDM’ platform, which allows agents to connect with our BDMs in a way and at a time that suits them best, whether they are seeking event support, adaptable promotional materials, or product training.

I look forward to getting to know as many of our valued travel agents in India as I can, so that I can better understand how we can support them and where the opportunities lie. At the same time, we are continuing to invest in our consumer marketing in India to help inspire travelers to contact their travel agents to start planning their future cruise.

What are the popular itineraries for Indian travellers?

Indian cruisers are avid travellers, and voyages throughout Europe, Alaska, and the Bahamas are always popular, including iconic destinations in the Western Mediterranean such as Rome, Venice, and Barcelona, as well as Northern Europe, where Iceland and Norway are at the top of Indian travellers’ bucket lists.


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