Hotels Update: More destinations, properties and competition
Louis Castaigne, Global Hotel Programs Manager, gives us an update on cruise pre & post hotel programs…
In a ‘nutshell’, what is happening with hotel programs?
Pre & Post is growing consistently with the cruise industry in terms of volume and geographic spread, but we are now serving a more diverse guest demographic and facing increased competition from online reservation platforms. All of this is driving greater demand for a wider variety of options and differentiated product in new destinations. We are also seeing more demand for Land Programs.
Any changes to the type of hotel properties contracted?
We continue to work with international hotel chains, luxury franchise groups, local chains and unique properties. There is more demand for unique and boutique options, as well as a greater focus on a strong alignment between the hotel and cruise experience. For example, when working with a small ship luxury cruise brand we will propose five star and five star lux hotels, ensuring to include smaller, independent local options, as well as internationally recognized brands.
Are there new pre & post destinations?
We’ve had more requests regarding exotic and emerging cruise destinations, such as India, South Africa and Indonesia, reflecting completed infrastructure development, the opening of new cruise markets and the growth of expedition cruising. We can procure hotel rooms in every country that a cruise line could visit, so it is exciting to see demand for a more diverse range of destinations. Pre & Post in North America is also growing, which could be related to an increased European cruise line presence in the region, or the successful cruise line targeting of new guest demographics from the North America source market.
What has been the impact of online reservation platforms?
The ease in which a guest can book accommodation independently is having an impact, so we are focusing on further differentiating our product by working closely with hotels to achieve competitive rates and more flexibility in relation to last minute changes, as well as additional benefits for guests, such as complimentary or discounted services, e.g. hotel spa treatments.
How can hotels work with Intercruises?
We primarily with hotels that want cruise business and will work to meet the needs of the cruise industry. A key part of our role is sharing knowledge regarding these requirements and ensuring those are met, such as contract flexibility, hospitality desks, transport operations, porterage service and different types of specific or private requests. Before we work with them, we ensure hotels meet all Intercruises and cruise line policies, including safety, quality, sustainability, child protection and animal welfare. We will also prioritize properties that are aligned to cruise line policies, so if a cruise line is reducing the use of single use plastic straws, we will prioritize hotels reducing the use of single use plastics. Additionally, we offer support to cruise lines for the ship crew, identifying a different kind of property that offers convenience and competitive rates.
How do you create Hotel programs?
In the Intercruises corporate office we have an experienced, multilingual (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Greek, Catalan) team of cruise pre & post specialists, which become global key account managers and the single point of contact worldwide for cruise lines regarding all pre & post hotel programs. This team centralizes all key information from the cruise line, such as property type, quality standards, allotment details, deployment dates and cancellations and payment terms. They then coordinate two parallel work streams:
1. Local Teams: We communicate the cruise line standards to our local teams in the relevant destinations, which work with their local hotel contacts to create proposals.
2. International Hotel Chains: All the main hotel chains have an Intercruises global account manager and through this established relationship and higher global volume we endeavor to agree proposals with favorable conditions.
All these proposals are checked by the central team, which understands the market, different types of product and contract conditions. They ensure the proposals are good value and meet all cruise line standards, rejecting or renegotiating as necessary. All proposals are combined in a final consistent format and sent to the cruise line.
What are the future changes?
Looking internally, one of our current focuses is analyzing all our processes to understand how digitization can provide an even quicker and more transparent service, such as automated warning notifications a week prior to allotment cancellation dates and a bidding system that connects with the cruise line systems.
Case Study: A Major Challenge
Due to a technical ship issue, we had to find 1800 rooms in 24hrs in Barcelona and organize transportation between the vessel and the hotels. Unfortunately there was a large congress taking place in Barcelona at the time and although we successfully found all the necessary rooms and organized the transportation (with help from our Intercruises ground handling colleagues), it was a round the clock, team effort. While not common, due to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances, this does happen on a semi-regular basis, but we have always found the rooms due to our strong existing relationships and the support of the experienced global Intercruises team.
For more information regarding Intercruises Hotel Programs, please contact Louis Castaigne.