Cunard Working To Boost North American Visibility

Cruise Week

There’s an invisible challenge facing Cunard in North America: a number of agents simply are 
not interested in promoting the brand in proportion to its size and their ability to do so.

Cruise Week found that out when preparing for an interview with Rick Meadows, President of Cunard Line North America. Prior to the interview with Meadows we asked several retailers about their views on Cunard vs. other upper-end lines.
“You can make a lot of money selling Cunard and it has a broader appeal than most agents realize,” said one veteran.
On the other hand, some agents simply pass. They will book Cunard when asked to do so, which is occasionally. “People come into our office wanting Viking, saying they saw the ads on TV, but they aren’t asking for Cunard,” explained one.
Perhaps a few years back Cunard missed an opportunity to maximize its appeal to the North American market in terms of creating consumer interest. Viking’s corporate sponsorship of TV shows like Downton Abbey and Sherlock, whose audience would seem to be a good match for Cunard’s target market, has resulted in people calling in and requesting Viking.
But there are other ways to grow in consumer and trade awareness. Now in the role as President North America for the past 9 months, Meadows is confident Cunard can grow here, and the roots of his strategy are becoming clearer as the brand makes significant changes.

First is the upcoming renovation of the Queen Mary 2 through a 25 day dry-dock this spring. “It’s an extensive refit that will touch quite a number of guest-facing areas from entertainment to culinary,” Meadows says. “You’ll be getting a lot more information on what’s planned over the next 4-5 months.”
One component of the refit that has already been announced is the Britannia-club staterooms. “These have been very popular because with those staterooms comes a dedicated dining venue that allows guests to have an open seating dining arrangement,” says Meadows. “A table reserved for any time they would like for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
In essence, more Britannia-club staterooms means having more balconies and private dining available at a more affordable level than before. “It’s similar to the Grills, but at a different level,” sums up Meadows. “As you would expect, the Grills are an even more elevated dining experience. But [Britannia-club] gives that chance to really come and go as you please at your dedicated table.”
Another key addition is a number of new single staterooms, a concept that has proven popular on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. “There are individual solo travellers who want to have a stateroom designed for them, where there’s not a single supplement or any sort of a different pricing strategy,” says Meadows.

In terms of the big picture, Cunard is making changes such as a partnership with jazz label Blue Note, that indicates they are making the onboard scene more contemporary (jeans and casual dress are allowed) in such a way that doesn’t turn off Cunard’s traditional appeal.

There is also a new partnership with New York Times approved speakers, including Pulitzer Prize winning journalists appearing on eastbound QM2 New York-Southampton crossings in 2016.
“Overall, there are a number of things we’re doing to increase awareness of Cunard," says Meadows. As one example he points to well-publicized 175th anniversary celebrations for Cunard held in Halifax, Boston and New York earlier this year. 

The travel trade is another important component. "We’re looking at a number of techniques to make sure that our relationships with travel sellers are really enhanced and focused,” he says. “We’re also thinking through ways that we can help develop programs that make us unique as a brand in the market."
Meadows says to stay tuned, as more specifics both on QM2's renovation and other Cunard initiatives will be revealed in the months ahead.

Kevin Griffin - September 5, 2015 @ 13:09
Why don't they reinvent their old Cunard Inner Circle Club to get the attention of agents? They should never have abandoned it.

Marcy - September 4, 2015 @ 10:09
How could anyone compare the luxury of Cunard with the bargain basement Viking? I would NEVER put one of my clients on a Viking ship. Go Cunard Go!

(will not be published)