Partners In Positioning: Celebrity, Azamara & Rocky Mountaineer

with Ming Tappin

Ming with Chad Kowalenko, Celebrity Cruises; Traci Farden, Azamara Club Cruises & Juna Ueda of Rocky Mountaineer.

(l-r) Kevin Vennesland, ExpediaCruiseShipCenters Burnaby; Trish Vogler, ExpediaCruiseShipCenters Surrey; Heather Clifton, Matthew Vaughan & Elsie O'Brien, CruiseExperts Travel & Yukako Carrothers, ExpediaCruiseShipCenters North Vancouver enjoy their dinner before the presentation.

Richmond was one of the stops on the 9 city road show featuring Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Rocky Mountaineer. The trio hosted approximately 70 agents for a buffet dinner and presentation this week. The event partners decided to join forces because they are all focussing on attracting like-minded clientele looking for unique travel experiences with unparalleled quality and service. 

Azamara's combination of boutique small ships and inclusive pricing is already a successful concept. Coupled with their destination immersion program and worldwide itineraries, it's no surprise that it enjoys a 37% repeat factor. 

With an increasing number of overnights, extensive city stays, and semi to all-inclusive pricing options, Celebrity Cruises is also poised to attract the discerning traveller looking for tremendous value. 

Closer to home, Canadian-owned Rocky Mountaineer's motto is to create life-changing experiences for every guest. The luxury train operator appeals to the same premium and luxury cruise clientele who want the best and are willing to pay for it.

Today's travellers are looking for insider's access to the destinations they visit and meaningful interactions with the locals they meet. They want authentic, life-changing experiences. The message from all 3 suppliers was clear: agents need to be more than just order takers, and they need to steer clients towards a product that is right for them. Buying travel is an emotional decision, and therefore the sales presentation should tug at the heart strings with the emphasis on experience rather than price.

Matthew Vaughan of CruiseExperts Travel appreciated the insight and knowledge about these brands, he also gained the motivation to upsell to premium and luxury travel. The sentiment was echoed by Kevin Vennesland of  ExpediaCriuseShipCenters Burnaby, who said attending this session boosted his confidence in presenting niche products such as Azamara and Rocky Mountaineer, brands he did not know much about before.  

My favourite takeaway of the night was also another terrific message to agents. Rocky Mountaineer's most expensive package - the Circle Journey ranging from $4K to $13K - has always been in the back of the brochure. In 2015 it was moved up to the front of the brochure, and became the best seller that year, surprising all. It is a perfect reinforcement to my consistent message - position luxury upfront, and don't be afraid to offer it. You might be surprised when the client says yes!

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 37 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of

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