A ship of just over 2,600 women (and 57 men) set sail to spend three nights on a Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine “Girls’ Getaway with Oprah Winfrey” on Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.
The guests were loyal Oprah fans who were inspired by Oprah’s best friend Gayle King (co-anchor of “CBS This Morning”), as well as editorial staff members of O, The Oprah Magazine (where Gayle is also Editor-at-Large), all with the aim of cherishing female friendship and achieving self-improvement and self-empowerment.
These women (and handful of men) were also introduced to Holland America’s newest ship, Nieuw Statendam, and perhaps for some even the concept of cruising. Oprah happens to be the Godmother of Nieuw Statendam; and the roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise, which included a stop at Holland America’s private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, was followed by an invitation-only ship dedication ceremony in Fort Lauderdale.
Oprah noted at the ceremony that, “The past three days will certainly be one [experience] that I will cherish and will live with me forever … It’s been an incredible experience just to watch all of these women interact with each other.”
The cruise included a 90-minute, live “A Conversation with Oprah” event, where Oprah spoke about life, friendships, and the well-deserved freedom at age 65 to say “no” to things she does not want to do. Gayle joined her on stage at the end for a Q&A.
What can travel agents learn from Oprah’s cruise? Here are some ideas on how to use the Oprah cruise concept to boost your sales.
1. Plan a girls’ getaway
At press time, there are no official future Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine “Girls’ Getaway” cruises planned. However, while on stage during the ship’s dedication ceremony, Oprah did ask Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford, “When are we going to do it again? Where are we going next?”— repeating questions she had heard from women on the ship at the end of the “Girls’ Getaway” cruise.
The sailing also featured workshops led by beauty and style experts from O, The Oprah Magazine; as well as Tracee Stanley, certified yoga and meditation instructor with Unplug Meditation; and “fitness evangelist” Angela Davis. In addition, there was a session of O’s Reading Room with Tara Westover, The New York Times best-selling author of “Educated.” Though Oprah certainly is a big draw, agents can gather their own experts and book special interest groups on a cruise offering time devoted just for female bonding.
“Just because cruisers may not have made the recent special cruise doesn’t mean that a memorable girls’ getaway or friends’ cruise can’t be planned with the help of a travel advisor,” says Eva Jenner, VP, sales, for Holland America Line. “People travel to enjoy meaningful experiences and to connect with family and friends in positive and uplifting ways. Cruising is perfect for this.”
The ages of the women on Oprah’s “Girls’ Getaway” were 6 to 93, representing a big pool from which agents can find prospects. Jenner, however, stresses to include all prospective travelers. “I regularly run into friends or siblings traveling together, where memories are shared and new memories are made,” she says. “It’s often women, but not exclusively, so don’t forget the guys.”
2. Sell Oprah inspiration on other Holland America cruises
Holland America and O, The Oprah Magazine formed an exclusive partnership in 2017 that has been extended through 2019, “to unite the soul-stirring power of travel with O's deep commitment to connection and personal growth.”
Though all guests won’t get to sail with Oprah, Holland America sailings in North America include activities developed with the magazine's editors, including meditation, exercise, and healthy eating. O’s Reading Room is also available on all cruises worldwide. These Oprah inclusions just may be the concepts that help close a sale or get a first-time cruiser to try their first sailing.
3. Sail on one of the industry’s newest ships
Oprah’s relationship as Godmother to Nieuw Statendam is a great opener for selling the ship. Even if clients are not Oprah fans, they may be interested in sailing on Holland America’s newest ship, which made its premier voyage in December 2018.
Among the new ship’s features is Music Walk, where guests can enjoy live performances at Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard, Rolling Stone Rock Room, and B.B. King’s Blues Club.
Other highlights of the ship include “America’s Test Kitchen” cooking shows and a full-service spa.
Specialty restaurants include steak and seafood at Pinnacle Grill; Canaletto for Italian food, Southeast Asian cuisine at Tamarind and Nami Sushi; and French seafood in Rudi’s Sel de Mer.