ShipsAhoy sits down with Ian to learn all that's new with NCL
By: Ilona Kauremszky
For Ian Smyth of Norwegian Cruise Line, escorting a FAM trip once certainly had some laughs but as he humbly admits at his own expense.
“I was escorting a group of travel agents in a destination known for pickpockets many years ago and was warning them to keep an eye on their belongings,” he starts and deadpans how when it came time for tipping guess who had been pickpocketed?
“Yup me. We all had a good laugh later that evening at dinner,” he laughs over some of the mishaps associated in travel.
In this new monthly series, ShipsAhoy sat down with the business development manager who shares some of the company’s latest developments including some personal cruising highlights, sales tips and favourite past-times.
What is the most interesting thing you have eaten on a cruise?
Cagney’s our steakhouse! To this day one of the best steaks I have ever had. A must do for anyone cruising with us.
What is one quirk travel agents don’t know about you?
I love Coronation Street! I have been watching the program since I was 12 and I am hooked. Whenever I am away I miss my daily dose of the Street.
What would you like to see happen within the cruise industry?
Product knowledge is key to understanding the cruise industry and what ships are best for your guests. All the cruise lines have such wonderful online learning tools and special trade events, yet so many travel agents do not take advantage of them.
What’s new with the brand?
Norwegian Cruise Line is a very different brand today from what people may recall from years ago. We continue to be the innovators in the contemporary cruise space with such offerings as FreeStyle cruising as well as our Free at Sea which, represents tremendous value for our guests.
Please highlight some exciting initiatives.
Last year we launched Norwegian Edge, a $400-million dollar reinvestment into three main areas of our business:
1. Fleet refurbishments– Our goal is to have the ships look ‘better than new’ upon completion. Typically these are 30-day dry dock renovations involving 1250 employees.
2. Destination improvements—Watch for extensive improvements to our private island Great Stirrup Cay.
3. Food and beverage improvements plus new offerings like our partnership with Jimmy Buffet and Margaritaville.
Any agent incentives?
We just relaunched NCLU our Travel Agent specialist program that allows travel agents to earn reduced rates on cruises as well as a free cruise upon completing the course and booking five cabins on NCL.
Any selling tips?
Sell balconies whenever possible. This is the best way for people to fall in love with cruising. Also, sell balconies as an extra living space. Guests never regret booking a balcony.
What about upselling?
Yes, always upsell to balconies whenever possible. Show guests the difference in the per day cost, sometimes it is very little and wow what a difference waking up to a beautiful view and eating breakfast on your balcony.