NCL Corporation (NCL) announced today that it has put into place an electronic co-op marketing reimbursement plan, “e co-op,” which further expands Partnership 2.0, the company’s major travel partner initiative that was announced in December.
Partnership 2.0 involves major changes to the way NCL does business to strengthen its relationships with travel partners, at all levels. The initiative has been driven by quantitative and qualitative feedback from travel partners and has been enabled by Apollo’s billion dollar investment in NCL and Star Cruises continued commitment and vision.
The “e co-op” plan now automates marketing reimbursement contracts, back-up and check processing, in turn creating a trackable, efficient and paperless process. This plan allows co-op reimbursements to be paid five weeks earlier than in the past. This time can be cut shorter if the travel partner opts to receive funds electronically (begins mid-summer).
“This innovation revolutionizes the old co-op model, allowing our valued travel partners to receive their co-op payments in a timelier manner,” said Colin Veitch, NCL’s president and CEO. “This key upgrade to our Partnership 2.0 initiative shows how committed we are to the ongoing enhancement of our travel partner’s experience with NCL.”
Anthony Hamawy, president of Cruise.com, appreciates the new automated process and said, “The new electronic reimbursement innovation helps streamline the processing of our cooperative funds and allows for quick and easy tracking, which is a great benefit to our marketing department. This new found efficiency allows us to invest more time in marketing NCL’s cruises instead of collection efforts.”
Partnership 2.0 enhancements completed and implemented to date include:
• NCL implemented a Resolution Desk, comprised of a cross-functional team with diverse backgrounds who are fully empowered to resolve travel partner issues or concerns.
• NCL is processing group commissions five weeks earlier with processing commencing seven days prior to sailing.
Reservation Agent Knowledge:
• All NCL reservation agents have received additional training on policies, pricing, promotions and products.
Improved Credit Card Policies:
• Any declined credit card receives a call directly to the booking agent;
• Canadian credit cards are processed during the call with immediate approval status.
Simplified Pricing Quotes and Ensuring Consistency:
• NCL has eliminated close to 1,000 promo codes to ensure travel agents get the same price quote every time they call in;
• A dedicated team is in place shopping the GDS system for consistency and accuracy;
• An expanded dedicated team is in place shopping internally for pricing consistency with training and team member development;
• Expanded external mystery shopping from NCL’s external quality assurance partner is in place.
Enhancements to Confirmations:
• On-board credits now appear on confirmations for those reservations that have received an on-board credit;
• Air for infants now displays differently. The air gateway no longer appears for infants traveling on parents’ lap. The gateway will only appear if an air seat was purchased for the infant.
Premium Air Desk
• The premium air department is now available during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, for real time assistance with custom air requests.
Suite & Villa Bookings
• A 24-hour option has been added on the booking of suite and villa categories (A1-A4, including AA).
• Every travel partner check issued by NCL will automatically generate an e-mail to the travel agent, informing them a check is being processed. This e-mail will be sent out 72 hours after the check is created, and will contain the check number and the amount
• A NCL Internal Audit Team conducts calls whereby the sales team is rated on the overall sales and booking process.
Enhanced Quality Assurance program
• Based on acquired data from all of NCL’s business divisions, an external team rates the calls for consistency to drive higher levels of customer satisfaction.
NCL Corporation Ltd. is the holding company for various subsidiary companies involved in owning and operating the ships of Norwegian Cruise Line.
NCL plans to build two new third generation Freestyle Cruising ships for delivery in 2010. NCL today has the youngest fleet in the industry, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility of Freestyle Cruising on the newest, most contemporary ships at sea, and has recently added its latest new ship, the 2,400-passenger Norwegian Gem.