Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) president and CEO Harry Sommer believes there is a golden opportunity right now for travel agents to get on the front foot and “make a name for themselves”.
Speaking at Travel DAZE earlier this week, Sommer (pictured above) said that with the agent population shrinking due to the impacts of COVID-19, he expects to see “a few bold people out there” capitalise on having less competition.
“There’s a proverb that I’ve heard that fortune favours the bold, and I think it’s times like this that there are going to be a few bold people out there that are going to say there is an unprecedented opportunity with some travel agencies either going out of business or perhaps exiting the cruise, or shifting their focus to something else, that people that are a little bit bold can really make a name for themselves and can really make a huge success,” he said.
“My first foray into trade was right after 9/11. It was the worst period for travel up until this last year in the history of travel.
“I had a partner and we said, ‘If there would be an opportunity to get in on the ground floor where you can get great people who perhaps had jobs and don’t anymore, and get the ear of travel providers, this is the time’.
“So, if there are bold people out there, this is probably the best time in this generation to double down, expand and make a mark.”
NCL’s managing director for the Asia Pacific, Ben Angell, echoed Sommer’s message to agents.
“As confidence grows amongst consumers, trade needs to be ready to capitalise, and to capitalise with that point of difference,” he said.
“We’ve seen it happen in the US as the recovery really unfolds, we’ve seen it in the UK where, all of a sudden, demand’s spiking to levels you couldn’t have imagined a month or so prior.
“Keep your eyes open and keep ready, and work with us on what you need to be ready to capitalise as demand comes back.”
Angell also warned agents against waiting for prices to drop, given the current high volume of bookings that NCL and other cruise lines are witnessing.
“If there’s one message for that I’d like travel agents to take away from this, it is that with cruise lines in general booking at higher volumes than ever before and further out than ever before, anyone sitting [and] expecting prices to drop closer in or waiting to see what happens closer in will be disappointed,” he told Travel DAZE attendees.
“If we don’t get in and book early, there’s going to be less capacity, there’s going to be higher price points and rising price points, so we really need to get in and make those bookings now for 2022 and even 2023.”
During their Travel DAZE session, Sommer and Angell talked about NCL has continued to innovate, invest since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, spurred on by the opportunity to grow brand awareness while others were consolidating.
The NCL bosses also shared the leadership lessons they’ve learned throughout the pandemic, and said they were hopeful of welcoming Aussie guests back on its ships early next year.
You can watch Sommer and Angell’s Travel DAZE session in full, on demand HERE.