Thursday, November 4, 2010

Regent Seven Seas Cruises - What The...(Are People Jumping Ship?)

I recently attended a conference where Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises spoke.  He shared information which I found rather disturbing.  Disturbing not because it was aggravating (like the "FREE" hotel stay that is not free because it is only available if you pay a higher fare...which more than covers the cost of the hotel stay), but because it shows there is a significant problem with the Regent product.

Truth be told my motivation in writing today was an email blast from Regent wherein Mr. Conroy wrote, "I want to share some exciting news with you regarding the success of our new FREE Luxury Hotel Package. To date, this new program has been a tremendous driver of new bookings with more than 75% of guests choosing this valuable new amenity."  (emphasis original).

What Mr. Conroy does not tell you is that Regent Seven Seas Cruises has an extraordinarily high percentage of people that book and deposit a cruise and then cancel the cruise before final payment.  Before all the "free, free, free" marketing it was in the 15-18% range (which is still high), but then rose to an alarming almost  35% rate.  Regent then started its "free, free, free" promotions and he bragged that the cancellation rate reduced to slightly over 25%. 

Folks, if 25% of my bookings cancelled I would be out of business.  So I have to ask a few questions, "Why would I want to endorse a product that only 75% of the people are satisfied enough to actually go on the cruise?" and then "How many of those 75% will still be satisfied after they take that cruise?"

But there is a more important question, "What is it that is causing 25% of the people that book a Regent Seven Seas cruise to cancel it before final payment?"  It appears to me that it comes down to the adage, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

I am convinced that empirically, after the excitement of booking that "Six Star Luxury" cruise with all your drinks, gratuities, tours, hotel, etc. included (or "free" if you wish), there is a very significant amount of Buyer's Remorse because the cost of the cruise is actually very high when compared to other cruise lines.  I have done the math previously and shown that it doesn't matter if you book a Seabourn, Silversea or Celebrity cruise they almost always come out being less expensive...even when you add in the cost of those allegedly "free" items on Regent.

When the high price is married to the inconsistency of service and cuisine (that even the Regent diehards have been complaining of as of late), one has to wonder why Regent is focused on deceptively marketing more is "free" rather than improving the product and claiming, "We are worth it because we are THAT good."

Does anyone have any other idea as to why Regent has a 25% cancellation rate?

More importantly, I am wondering why Mr. Conroy hasn't shared the repeater rate progression.  Are less people taking their following cruise on Regent?  I think if that was perceived as a strong point, it would have provided.  But, alas, on this I can only speculate.

Join the discussion on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum.