Virgin Launches Circles Program for Group Travel

Virgin Voyages today released details for Circles, what it described as an approach to group travel designed to bring together and reward guests (Virgin calls them Sailors) who travel in groups aboard its ships and their travel advisors, labeled by the brand as First Mates.

“We refer to ‘groups’ of Sailors as Circles because we love the idea of celebrating togetherness and human connection at sea,” said Tom McAlpin, president and CEO for Virgin Voyages. “Our First Mates told us they were looking for something simple, consistent and rewarding for their clients who sail together. We listened to them and threw out the rule book again by eliminating complex point-based amenity programs that apply only to select sail dates, to create something flexible and enticing for our Sailors and First Mates. Our approach to Circles also ensures that the experience remains intimate for all Sailors on board and never feels over run by mass.”

A Circle for Virgin Voyages is defined as 10 cabins or more, including solo cabins, and can be as large as 150 Sailors, according to a statement.

Circle size and the number of Circles sailing at one time are limited to ensure those traveling in Circles have opportunity for exclusivity while the dynamic for Sailors outside of the Circle isn’t negatively impacted by large groups, the company said. 

Circles on all voyage dates will be eligible for Circle Bounty, which includes an onboard credit for Sailors known as Sailor Loot. Sailor Loot can be spent during the voyage however a Sailor wishes and is determined based on the level of cabin they choose– Insider and Sea View cabins receive $50 per cabin; Sea Terraces receive $100 per cabin and Mega RockStar and RockStar Suites receive $200 per cabin.

In addition, for every 10 cabins sold, the Circle will earn a 10 percent voyage credit known as the Circle Chest, based on the highest voyage fares. Circles can earn credit towards their Circle Chest in increments of 10 cabins, examples of this include when 15 cabins have been sold, the credit will be based on the highest valued 10 cabins within the group, if 20 cabins are sold, credits will be awarded based on all 20 cabins, continuing on based on blocks of 10 cabins.

The Circle Chest puts the control of the benefit in the hands of the First Mate and can be applied in a number of ways including:

• Spent in part or in total toward new cabins on the Circle voyage date that can be enjoyed by First Mates or Sailors.
• Applied prior to final payment as a reduction of voyage fare across any of the purchased cabins on the Circle voyage, in which case commission for the First Mate will be protected and based on the full voyage fare.
• Set up as a pre-funded master account that can be used on board during the Circle voyage to surprise and delight Sailors with extras including onboard credits, visits to the spa, shore things, cocktail parties, etc.

To kick off the Circles program, Virgin Voyages is offering a special promotion for new 2020 Circles booked now through December 31, 2019. For a limited time, Circles will receive double the standard Sailor Loot amount per cabin.

To sweeten the deal, First Mates will also receive a 5 percent bonus commission on voyage fare for new 2020 Circles, Virgin announced.

This special offer is valid on all 2020 sailings except Virgin Voyages’ maiden voyage on April 1 and Sir Richard Branson’s Birthday Bash on July 15.

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