Friday, July 11, 2008

Regent Seven Seas Society Membership Changes...The Devolusion of a Loyalty Program

Regent Seven Seas has quietly announced some changes to its past passenger program. As I explain below, the program is providing far less than Seabourn and Silversea do while Regent charges the same price for its cruises (regardless of quality). Essentially, with a couple of exceptions, Regent is repackaging some of the little things it stopped providing its most loyal passengers as part of their cruise fare as "benefits" and then others are cheap efforts to sell insurance and up sell souvenirs.

First a good thing: For those of you who are familiar with the program, the "improved" one drops the silly art auction discounts.

Now, if you dig down, the program really doesn't provide much. After 21 days it provides free internet (which is a very nice thing) and one hour of satellite telephone time (also nice), but not much else of substance...until you sail more than 200 days.

At that 200+ day level Regent will provide complimentary laundry and pressing (and dry cleaning for those over 400 days) and a newspaper. I believe this change is in response to a number of World Cruise passengers who were very upset to see the previously complimentary laundry being limited by day and number of pieces on this past world cruise. So, if you are on your third World Cruise it is not a problem. It is a curious solution, but one that does correct an unintended insult to Regent's most loyal passengers.

Also at 400+ days Regent is providing complimentary transfers to the airport (within 50 miles) or airport/pier transfers for those same 400+ day folks.

But then it gets silly; and I mean really silly. If you purchase Regent insurance and you are one of its most loyal past passengers you get (noting it is a $49.00 value!) increased coverage. Not only that, if you act now and purchase a personalized softcover commemorative album it will be upgraded to a hardcover at no additional cost! Geez.

But saving the best for last, after tauting that its 200+ day passengers will have a special event on each cruise, Regent inserts an asterisk "The exclusive activities offered for Gold, Platinum and Titanium members may be combined with special events already incorporated in our longer voyages." In English: World Cruise and World Segment Passengers - the ones that will probably be in the 200+ day category are probably getting little benefit.

Since Regent competes with Seabourn and Silversea comparing the loyalty programs is only fair and appropriate.

On Seabourn's latest version of its program after 140 days you receive a free 7 day cruise in the category you have most sailed anywhere Seabourn cruises, or you can accrue the benefit and take a free 14 day cruise after 250 days. Comparison:

- Over the life of the Regent program to 250 days you may receive about $3,000 in benefits...if you fully use the internet benefit (at $100 per 10 day cruise and the first two don't count as you are not vested). If you don't, it is pretty much worthless. (Don't get me wrong, the internet benefit is nice.)

- On Seabourn you receive a cruise worth around $10,000 - $15,000.

All of a sudden the Regent program is looking pretty lame. And, for those who have spent 400+ days, you would be looking at $30,000+ in free cruises on Seabourn...while you had to fight to get Regent to do your laundry.

On Silversea you receive an additional 5% off on any Venetian Society discounted sailings after 100 days (value around $375-$500). At 250 days you receive an additional 10% off, plus complimentary laundry, along with early embarkation ($100 per cruise). At 350 days you receive a complimentary 7 day cruise followed by a complimentary 14 day cruise at 500 days. Again, the comparison - while not as generous overall as Seabourn - still puts Regent to shame.

Now, let me add one additional point: Seabourn and Silversea have much less capacity so the guests sailing are the ones actually paying for their one benefits. On Regent there are many that will never make even the first level of benefits as that would require three 7 day sailings. Those passengers are subsidizing the benefits of the most loyal passengers. Hence Regent should have a far more generous program because it is charging as much as Seabourn and Silversea and in actuality is doling out its limited benefits to only a small percentage of its past passengers.

It just baffles me.

For those that want to see the full list of Regent benefits, here they are:


Bronze, 4 - 20 nights
Seven Seas Society cocktail reception
Access to Seven Seas Society cruises, including exclusive events ashore
Seven Seas Society savings on select sailings
Personalized newsletter
Access to Online Personal Profile
Communications with advanced access to itineraries and special offers
Upgrade and referral opportunities on select sailings

Silver, 21 - 74 nights
Everything from Bronze tier PLUS the following items:
Complimentary Internet access on board
One hour complimentary phone time per suite
Complimentary pressing on formal and/or informal nights (up to two items per 7-night cruise segment)
Invitation to participate in Seven Seas Society Advisory Board (on select sailings)
Invitations to exclusive Regent cruise and hotel events in select cities

Gold, 75 - 199 nights
Everything from Bronze and Silver tiers PLUS the following items:
Priority disembarkation at cruise completion in select ports
Additional two hours of complimentary phone time per suite
Choice of newspaper service from around the world
Complimentary pressing of up to two additional items per 7-night cruise segment
Complimentary upgrade to hardcover of personalized commemorative album at soft cover price on select voyages
Exclusive Gold, Platinum and Titanium activity aboard or ashore on every sailing*
Priority reservations at restaurants and spas
Complimentary upgrade to Regent Care Plus when standard package is purchased

Platinum, 200 - 399 nights
Everything from Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers PLUS the following items:
Complimentary air deviation services (one time per sailing)
Additional six hours of complimentary phone usage per sailing
Complimentary pressing
Complimentary laundry services
Invitation to Customer Advisory Panel (on select sailings)

Titanium, 400 + nights
Everything from Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers PLUS the following items:
Complimentary transfers to and from your home to the pier (within a 50 mile radius). OR complimentary transfers from the airport to the pier on embarkation and disembarkation day
Complimentary dry cleaning

The exclusive activities offered for Gold, Platinum and Titanium members may be combined with special events already incorporated in our longer voyages.