As Royal Caribbean rolled out wow entertainment features for its soon-to-launch Quantum of the Seas last week, executive Adam Goldstein took the time to say the line has not forgotten the importance of travel agents.
"The state of the partnership we have with travel agents is very strong," Goldstein, newly named president of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., told Travel Market Report in an interview.
Royal Caribbean just wrapped up a Travel Agent Appreciation Week, with Goldstein meeting with a number of top agencies in Los Angeles.
Some of the discussion in those meetings centered on history, he said.
Sees long-term partnership
"It's coming up on 20 years now since the airlines moved down a different path in terms of compensating travel agents – or I should say not compensating travel agents," Goldstein said. "At that time there was tremendous angst that the cruise industry would follow along that path.
"I think we can safely say, after 20 years, that the cruise industry continues to recognize the value that travel agents bring to our equation, and we expect to work with them very closely for a very long time to come," Goldstein said.
About commissions . . .
He added that paying agents a reasonable commission is very much part of Royal Caribbean’s plan for the future, though he said the amount has to be based on market conditions.
"It's not in the interest of shareholders to under-compensate or over-compensate anybody, including travel agents. If we under-compensate travel agents, we will not produce optimal performance," Goldstein said.
Meanwhile, appearing live in Las Vegas with delegates from the Vacation.com conference, and on a Google Hangout, Royal Caribbean's vice president of entertainment Nick Weir and Quantum godmother and Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth detailed the entertainment lineup for the soon-to-launch Quantum of the Seas.
Clever use of high tech is the word here.
In the versatile Two70° space, the cruise line's futuristic approach to entertainment will include floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall windows that provide daytime sea views and transform at night into Vistarama, a monstrous digital screen for shows and virtual concerts.
In the 450-seat space, live performers will also interact with six, seven-foot Roboscreens, controlled by robotic arms and able to twist and soar images around the space. Shows will include "Starwater," created with Montreal's Moment Factory.
In the 1,300-seat Royal Theater, Quantum will host an exclusive production, "Sonic Odyssey," created by musician and innovator William Close.
The show will feature his original instruments, including the Earth Harp, as well as a nine-piece orchestra, singers, dancers aerialists and gymnast.
As previously announced, theatergoers will also be able to catch a two-and-a-half-hour production of the Broadway hit "Mamma Mia!" featuring the songs of ABBA.
The party will continue after the show with a “‘Mamma Mia!’ After Party” in the Music Hall, a space that will also feature tribute bands (playing music of such groups as The Beatles and Journey) and an adults-only late-night show called "Wink."
Free . . . for now
All that entertainment will be free of charge. But when asked whether Royal Caribbean might someday charge for select entertainment – as competitor Carnival is doing with its marquee Carnival LIVE series – Weir said yes, it's being talked about.
"All the cruise lines are discussing it," he added.