Prioritizing travel agents with its Partners First philosophy means “never getting between our partners and their customers,” says NCL’s Vice-President, National Accounts & Field Sales, Nathan Hickman in this edition of Friday 5. NCL’s new ‘Team Canada’ is eager to drum up business in this market, he adds.
1. Norwegian Cruise Line has the Canadian market firmly in its sights. Why?
Hickman: While we’ve always had a strong presence in Canada, when we looked at the demographics of the average Canadian traveller, we still saw a huge opportunity to grow the cruise segment.
The number of Canadians who’ve gone on a cruise versus an inclusive land package in Mexico or Cuba is quite low, and yet marketing analytics shows an interest from that market.
I believe there’s nothing but opportunity given the sales team investment we’ve made, the people we have in place, and the marketing tools they have to support our partnerships.
2. For travel agents, BDMs are the face of the brand. NCL is boosting its presence in Canada. Is the team now in place?
Hickman: Yes. As of May 1, just a few months after announcing our intent to increase our presence in Canada, we have a full team in place. I am blown away by the passion and talent ‘Team Canada’ possesses. Under the leadership of Dana Gain, our national director for Canada, I have no doubt that we will deliver for our partners and help them grow their cruise business.
3. Norwegian Escape makes her debut Nov. 9 in Miami. Which three things on this ship are you most excited about?
Hickman: That’s a tough question because the ship has so much to offer. For travel partners who may be interested in learning more, we have a video elective on NCL U. It can be accessed by visiting NorwegianCentral.com and offers a short, entertaining video tutorial of the new ship. Personally, I’m looking forward to sampling the many food offerings onboard, including Food Republic with menus provided by the Miami-based Pubbelly Restaurant Group.
4. How can travel agents best position and sell The Haven?
Hickman: The Haven is perfect for multi-generational families. Quiet luxury is available in The Haven while all the dining, entertainment and nightlife are available at will. The Haven also offers exclusive access to the Courtyard, a private enclave at the top of the ship with an expertly trained staff to attend to our guests’ every need.
5. How important are travel agents to NCL’s success?
Hickman: To quote our president, Andy Stuart, “Travel partners are the lifeblood of Norwegian Cruise Line.” Every decision made within our organization is made through the filter of how it would impact our travel partners. Our Partners First philosophy has been integrated across every department of the organization including investing in the success of our partners, listening and taking action, making it easier to do business with us, and never getting between our partners and their customers.