Royal Caribbean’s Vicki Freed on connecting with journey advisors: Journey Weekly

Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support and Services at Royal Caribbean International, reached out to the travel advisor community in a variety of ways during the Covid-19 pandemic, including phone calls, emails, and her weekly webcast, Coffee Talk “. Senior Editor Jamie Biesiada spoke to Freed about the importance of communication as the travel industry copes with the impact of the crisis.

Vicki freed

Q: How did you connect with travel agents?

A: I put notes in the mail for them, I sent them e-mails. I’m just trying to connect with people so that they will remember that human connection when we get through this.

Many of them just need guidance: what should I do now? How should I market? Should I do marketing? How do I keep my business alive? I think they see me as a resource, as someone who has been in this business for a long time. I’m a pretty calm, level-headed person so I think people say, “You know, she’s not getting emotional, she’s going to get us through these challenging times,” or at least sound blackboard.

I have given travel buddies some messages about how I would send messages during these times. I wouldn’t make a hard sale. I would just remind people to be healthy, to stay healthy, and that we too will get over it. And if you then decide that you need a break after Covid-19, I am here, whether in 2020, 2021 or beyond.

Q: How did you use video for your public relations?

A: The purpose of my coffee chats is real [travel advisors’] Hour. What are you up to? However, I spend the first 12 minutes giving them an update [the cancellation program] Cruise With Confidence or last week it was [agency assistance program] RCL Cares or How to Find Your FCCs [future cruise credits]. An insight. And then I try to give them two little nuggets of something to look forward to in their business. It’s really rebuilding their business. It is something that you can take with you to gain some knowledge. I don’t want to keep warming up where we are because where we are is not going to change. We have to be happy.

We talked about hosting virtual cruise nights a couple of weeks ago and I’ve had a lot of feedback on that. People said, “I’ve tried, it was excellent Vicki.” And other people said, “I really want to try, but I don’t understand; give me step by step.” So I showed them the different platforms and the cost, and then showed them the six steps to starting a “chair traveler” program or a “vacation vacation” program or a “let’s dream about the vacation” program.

Q: What tools do you give advisors to contact customers? I saw some lovely photos from the Royal Caribbean used as a background for video calls.

A: Yes, and we showed them how to get that. We said, “Look, you could have Perfect Day in the background at CocoCay, you can have a ship in the background and it will make you look a little more professional. It will give the color and the excitement to the people. ‘

Q: Was that when you started looking into restructuring agreements with travel agents or offering incentives?

A: It’s a little early to start this big journey, but we’ve protected the commissions on the final paid bookings if they are canceled, whether they choose to cancel themselves because it’s Cruise With Confidence, or we cancel sailing. That’s why we help the travel partner by giving them the full commission. Although this is costing our company a lot of money and we have not generated any revenue because the rides have been canceled or people have canceled on us, we believe that in the long run we need these travel partners to be successful, to be financially strong . So we do our part.

Q: I noticed that you still send your emails every day with Vicki’s tips, messages of inspiration, business ideas, and more.

A: I’m just trying to be in their inbox and make it relevant to the times we are in right now.

So many travel partners are at home. Some of them are very isolated. Some of them could live alone. I just want to be someone they know is a resource to them and who cares about them. Really, that’s my goal. I am interested in these travel partners. My entire career has been about serving travel consultants.