Crystal Cruises has rebranded into Crystal. Can you tell us the vision behind that move?
We have just celebrated our 26th anniversary as Crystal Cruises. In July 2015, we announced our expansion plan and became Crystal because we are not only about cruises any more but also yacht expedition cruises, river cruises and air cruises with private jets.
How do you avoid diluting the brand with all the expansions?
We always keep our eye on the ball – our foundation is what got us here and that is Crystal Cruises. We are very focused on Crystal Cruises, maintaining what made it the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line. But, at the end of the day, I run a very marketing-driven company and it is all about marketing the foundation – that is, simply listening to your customers.
What do you think are the preferred ways today’s wealthiest few would like to travel?
We see all these brand expansions as puzzle pieces. Depending on the clients’ number of nights away and budget, we put the puzzle pieces together to interlock all these experiences and come up with a custom holiday trip for their individual needs. The new experience is about exclusivity, customisations and options. Our research shows us that is what today’s global luxury consumers want.
What’s your strategy to cultivate and nurture your existing customer base?
We continue to listen to them first and foremost. They know that they can email me directly and when I respond, my mobile number is on there. I run the company with a very hands-on approach. They know that they can come right up to me. It really boils down to taking their input as we evaluate strategically going forward. Don’t interpret that we are able to do everything they want all the time, no. But we certainly listen with a very open set of ears.
Do you see a younger demographic of holidaygoers embracing luxury cruises?
We are also attracting new customers to Crystal. Roughly 50 per cent of our guests on our yacht expedition brand and on our river cruises are brand new to Crystal. Also, we have been able to reach a younger demographic, 10-plus years younger than our average [client’s] age. What we are doing is we expose our brand to multigenerations and also offer experiences that [appeal] to younger and more active clientele.
How has the luxury cruises business evolved?
Say 10 years ago, it was very old-fashioned. We had 12- to 14-night voyages. We were not an all-inclusive brand experience, and we didn’t stay overnight. We were black-tie-required at least one or two nights per sailing. Now as we fast forward, the world has evolved. The new luxury is much more casual. Today we have voyages from five nights to 180 nights. We do not [require] a black tie but a country club style of dress. We stay overnight more often. I believe that we have to be in a perpetual state of evolution. If you stagnate, you die.
What is the role of Hong Kong in furthering the brand into the China market?
The potential of the Chinese market is phenomenal. Hong Kong is very important for the China market certainly. Hong Kong is a great point to embark or debark from a cruise experience or private jet experience. Our brand is much more an international brand experience. In all of our experiences, if we have a lot of Asian guests, we’ll put their dining features on for them. In general, we are not meant to be an Eastern experience. Now with the launch of our sister company Dream Cruises, wealthy Asian guests who want an Eastern experience should go on Dream Cruises. But for the more international experience, Crystal is the one they should [pick].
What has been the most effective strategy you’ve implemented since you took over as CEO?
Finding a new owner like Genting Hong Kong that is so bullish on our brand and so willing to invest in our brand.
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