Princess Cruises Wave Season Booking Volume Surpasses Previous Year

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (March 3, 2009) — Booking volume during the current wave season has surpassed the same period last year by nearly six percent, according Princess Cruises, who credits both lower prices and travel agents who have utilized the line’s sales support tools to generate business in the current economic climate.

Princess is congratulating agents who have been working diligently to sell the company’s value proposition during this time period, and who have taken advantage of the line’s key programs designed to support agents’ business.

“Travel agents gave us a record-breaking reservations day in January, and this further result shows that they continued to sell Princess cruises at an extraordinary rate throughout the first two months of the year,” said Jan Swartz, Princess’ executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service. “Agents understand that the best strategy at this time is to promote what’s selling — and Princess is selling. We want to thank, and congratulate, our travel partners for their exceptional efforts.

“Despite the headlines we see every day, now is a great time for agents to build their cruise business,” she said. “And we’re there to help agents do this not only with attractive fares, but also with great tools like our Princess Alliance direct mail program, POLAR Online booking tool, and Princess Academy training.”

Swartz said that agents are enthusiastically sharing their success stories about how Princess tools have supported their selling efforts.

Among the promotional offers used by travel agents during this key booking period have been Princess’ Balcony Bonanza, which enabled agents to provide a free upgrade to a balcony stateroom for the price of a standard oceanview stateroom, and the Alaska Wilderness Sale featuring four new Seattle-based cruisetour options including air and bus transfers and a free stateroom upgrade.

“The Balcony Bonanza promotion is ?right-on,'” said John R. Schmitt, Jr., CTC, of Michigan’s Superior & Frankenmuth Travel Service. “Today’s travelers are looking for value. This promotion appeals to those who are looking for more for their dollar. Historically, they would pay much more for the balcony and now, they can get the experience for much less.”

“In such a price-driven market, having resources and values like the Alaska Wilderness sale at the agent’s fingertips helps us confidently offer a competitive price,” said Megan Saxon of AAA Arizona in Phoenix, AZ. “The ability to focus your sales force on Alaska and hot deals clearly laid out in one place saves the agents valuable research time and allows them to be the hero to clients who are looking for a vacation steal.”

“Princess has hit a real home run with the Alliance direct mail program,” said Pat Theberge of Cruise Vacations, Inc. in Medford, MA. “The ease of setting up these mailings and quality of the product is outstanding. Most importantly, the results have been better than I expected. My response rate has been seven to ten percent better than other direct mailings I’ve done.”

Rich Skinner of Cruise Holidays in Woodinville, WA said, “For the first time in the history of our agency, we had several clients physically bring in direct mail offers asking us to book them on Princess. Using our Alliance effort with Princess we had customers book Europe, Alaska, the South Pacific and the Caribbean because they chose to ?invest in themselves and their well-being’ during these turbulent economic times.”

And POLAR Online, Princess’ renowned booking engine, has been equally praised by agents as a key to building business.

“If you’re not using POLAR, you’re missing the boat!” said K-K Afre of You & Leisure Tours and Travel Inc. in San Rafael, CA. “The ability to look up promotions, link past passenger information, and confirm a passenger in less time than it takes to get on the phone, is essential in today’s marketplace. Time IS money, and POLAR saves you time.”

Tripmasters’ Rob Van Patten, located in Grand Rapids, MI, said, “POLAR Online is the most dynamic system our agency utilizes. As an agency that deals primarily in groups, we have been amazed by the POLAR system’s accommodation to our segment of the industry; this is certainly not the case with other cruise line sites. Kudos to Princess Cruises for embracing and underwriting such a high level of technological support to the agent community!”