As Regent Seven Seas Cruises prepares for the November debut of its Seven Seas Grandeur, the luxury line has rolled out a new co-branding tool for travel advisors called Regent Connect. Shawn Tubman, senior vice president of sales for Regent, said the tool uses AI to help travel advisors provide personalized outreach to clients. Tubman spoke with cruise editor Andrea Zelinski about what this tool means for advisors and recent booking trends he has noticed at Regent.
Q: What is Regent Connect and what will it do?
A: We’re partnering with Approach Guides, and we’ve worked together to develop a Web-based platform to deliver hyper-relevant and personalized content to our trade partners’ prospects. What makes it so exciting is it’s very integrated, but it’s very easy to do for our travel partners. They can personalize and seamlessly connect their outbound marketing to their own dynamic Regent co-brand website, and at the same time keep their branding front and center so it’s not going to Regent’s website. It’s their own co-branded website with their call to action, their look and feel, but we control all the content, so they never have to worry about updating any of the content.
Q: How does this use AI technology?
A: It’ll start filling out, “Hey, thought of you. I see this product launch, and I think it’s time you may want to consider Regent.” There’s a Facebook option, there’s a LinkedIn option, there’s an email option. So [advisors] can just email this page to their whole email list, but it comes from them. They can take the AI content that we come up with, and they can customize that. They can do their own message if they want, but the AI message is pretty cool. It’s very relevant to what the subject is. If you don’t like the first version of the AI message, you can click “show me another.”
Q: What happens when the client shows interest in this email or social media post?
A: We stripped out all the lead generation to Regent, so nothing goes to Regent. It strictly is a pop-up window, then it’s an email from the guest to the agent saying, “Hey, I’m interested. I clicked on this itinerary,” and it gives the agent the same ship and sailing day and what they want to do, and so it’s a lead.
Q: Is this the first time Regent has used AI?
A: We’ve used AI a few times already with guest relations, crafting some messaging depending on situations and so forth. AI is scary, but at the same time, you’ve got to embrace it and use it for what it can really help with.
Q: Where do you source new clients from?
A: The bulk of our new business is coming from guests who book premium cruise line suites. About 40% to 45% of our businesses is coming from first-timers; they’re moving up mostly from the premium cruise lines, because they’ve cruised and they love cruising. They get the value proposition of moving up, like from contemporary to premium, or premium to premium suite. They get it now and ask what else is out there. That’s why they come up to us. And a lot of times they’re celebrating a special occasion.
Q: What booking trends are you seeing right now?
A: Booking further out. Longer cruises. A lot of this is spurred by the pandemic because they lost some good travel years, especially our crowd. How many good travel years do you have when you’re 65 or 70? You’ve got 10 or 15 really good travel years left right before it’s going to be a challenge. People are booking more cruises than before. They’ve got two booked for next year, two booked for ’25 and three booked for ’26.
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