What Celebrity’s ‘Go Big’ Means For Agents

Cruise Week

Dondra Ritzenthaler

Celebrity’s dramatically different new ‘Go Big. Go Better. Go Best.’ pricing structure requires some explaining during the sales process.

“This is a paradigm shift,” says Senior VP Dondra Ritzenthaler, “somebody could choose ocean view, but ‘Go Best,’ (to get the most inclusions) or somebody could choose concierge class and ‘Go Big.’” (choosing the least inclusive option.)

In recent meetings between Celebrity execs and agents attended by Cruise Week , retailers say the simplicity of the structure is essential.


“I like this,” said one agent. “I can’t tell you how many times that our legal have been in a room with us trying to cull through disclaimers to make sure that we’ve got everything covered. The fact that this applies to almost all major itineraries, all cabin categories, and that it’s a pretty clear message makes it so much easier for us to sell.”
Ritzenthaler’s response: “Our guiding principle has to be that the consumer needs to understand it and the agent needs to be able to sell it.”
The retail representative pointed to another aspect: “The other thing I like is that you addressed what are typically pain points for people who are dissatisfied. Once you’re on board you feel nickel and dimed. Particularly those people who say, ‘Look, I want all inclusive, I don’t want to deal with all that.’ Then you get onboard and it is included, but, except for this or that or you only get so many minutes on the web, etc.”
“It’s really amazing how these seemingly little things can leave knives in the feeling about the whole experience. So I think you really hit on a lot of those key things that people are looking for.”
Because the promotions are not add-on prices, but rather included in the main price itself, Ritzenthaler says the trade will have to take the time to educate the consumer about this difference.

“There are going to be times, many times, that we are going to be priced higher than our competitors because we include the things that they do not,” said Ritzenthaler.
“Let’s just say, for sake of conversation, that in ‘Go Big’ ours is going to be $1000 and you pick one of those four (inclusions). Our competitor may very well have a $900 or $950 rate. Now, it won’t be dramatically different, but we’re going to be higher because we include the value add in with that price instead of having cruise only."
She says it’s all better for agents: “Now you’re earning commission in that higher price that has included that amenity...we’re paying commission on something today that we didn’t pay commission on before.”
Ritzenthaler says much of the change was driven by consumer feedback. For instance, on a President’s cruise, President/CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo heard the following from some consumers: “Don’t force me into beverages. I don’t drink.” But, she also heard from others saying that including drinks is the best part of the whole thing.
The end result: “Now if you don’t value that, then you won’t choose that. But more importantly if you value them all, then price that and you’re all in.”

Lutoff-Perlo says the new pricing strategy leaves room to shake things up if necessary.


“So maybe ‘Big’ becomes two things, maybe ‘Better’ becomes three things, maybe ‘Best’ becomes four or five things. Maybe the OBC gets better. So you have opportunities to add on within the framework we created."
She also explained the use of the word 'Go.'
“We kept ‘Go’, which I think we had a lot of equity in—it’s an action word that makes people want to do something when they see it.
“We came into this with a strategy of Good, Better, Best. But we said 'good' wasn’t good enough because we always wanted somebody to believe that, when they were getting the first thing, they were getting something big. So we quickly eliminated good from our terminology, and ended up with the final name for the promotion.”
With the amount of thought given to the name, it makes sense that Celebrity put a lot of thought into the campaign's target demographic, as well: “Our target is $175,000 income and it’s in the range of 50 years of age. It is really the lifestyle of the person who appreciates the finer things in life, who wants a travel experience and who is not just looking for the cheapest price.”

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