Monday, October 25, 2010

Regent Seven Seas - A Lack of Class...Again. Silversea Cruises - Quite Another Thing

Attitude, product delivery, responsiveness, etc. all starts at the top and trickles down.  Who would you do business with:  The company that seeks to substantively engage you or the one that arrogantly seeks to embarrass a competitor and to increase conflict? 

Let me explain why I "ask" (the answer is pretty obvious, isn't it?). 

I spent the last five days at the Ensemble Travel Group annual conference.  While the vast majority of what goes on at the conference is to stay at the conference there were two very contrasting events that happened which I think are worthy of discussing because they highlight, in part, how I formulate my perception of cruise lines, which ones I believe are able to meet or exceed my client's expectations...and which ones, whether I agree with them or not, are honestly trying to deliver the best they can.

That said, and in the interest of being as up front as possible, I preface the following by stating that I have no real respect for Mark Conroy, the figurehead of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and, to be sure, he has made it known the feeling is mutual. The reason will be obvious.

Back in December 2008 I wrote a piece on an Open Letter from Mark Conroy wherein I commented, "While the letter is refreshing on its face, I have to wonder why it is it took so long to admit to everyone that Regent was not delivering the luxury product it charges such a high premium for. I have consistently commented that Regent's food is not "luxury", that its amenities were downgraded to essentially "common", that its crew training and performance was poor and, most importantly, there was very little consistency of product on the same ship, no less across the ships."


Then in March 2009 I wrote a piece Is It Time for Mark Conroy to Depart Regent Seven Seas?  In that article I queried why it took the takeover by Apollo Management (Prestige Cruise Holdings) to have the sagging quality on Regent (ships and service) to be identified and why was "Six Star Luxury" being pushed just as the ships were clearly showing their flaws.
 
Fast forward to October 2010.  I have been very critical here about Regent Seven Sea's handling of the compensation end of the Seven Seas Voyager's cancelled cruises and even more so about Regent hawking "FREE" pre-cruise hotel stays when they clearly are not "free", which you can read here
 
Now despite efforts for us to meet and clear the air, apparently Mark Conroy has declined.  In fact, this past week he begrudgingly shook my hand one day when I was with a group of people and on another occassion he faked that he didn't know who I was when he realized he just walked into a group that I was socializing with. But his arrogance and inappropriateness was not limited to his dealings with me. 
 
During the Regent Seven Seas presentation, with Holland America's representatives in the room, he laid out a rather skewed and unfair analysis as to why Regent was a better value than HAL.  Folks, such things are classless.  It was quite a subject about how inappropriate Mark Conroy was to intentionally attack a fellow cruise executive's product in such a venue...an executive that took the stage on moments later (and, with great class and a smile, stood his ground and pointed out HAL's strengths).  Just as I chose not to embarrass Mark Conroy during my encounters with him, there is a clearly classy way to do business...and then there is the other way. 
 
My observation is that Regent Seven Seas president chose the "It's all about me!" along with a slightly dishonest approach in order to make himself look better than he really is.  It is, to me, fair to conclude that Regent's tolerance of such misconduct bleeds over to its product deliver to the cruising public.  (Now consider the "FREE" promotion and the "Six Star Luxury" pitches!)
 
While I intend on writing in much more detail on this later, I contrast that the executives from Silversea (Ken Watson, Steven Tucker and others) actively sought me out, bought me a drink, had a very frank, open and honest discussion with me for about two hours (which will remain private!) and have made an active and impressive effort to really open up a dialogue at the highest levels...and with a very positive attitude.
 
Silversea has shown to me a commitment to do what it can with class and, while with the hope and belief that it will cause me to support its product, it knows that unless and until I am comfortable that Silversea delivers a defined and consistent product over an extended period, I will remain cautious.  And, to that end, Silversea knows that sweet-talking me isn't going to work...so the discussions were not focused on playing me that way.  They were excellent discussions.
 
Now, about that travel agent telling you that its biggest supplier, Regent Seven Seas, is doing everything the right way and treating you fairly...?
 
Your interests are my interests.  You are entitled to the what has been offered to you and Goldring Travel works to assure that and now you know a little bit more of what goes into the rationale and why it affects my recommendations to you.
 
Join the discussion on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum.