“Our product is about being one of a few instead of many,” said Mark Conroy, managing director for Silversea Cruises for the Americas. “It is also a combination of being exclusive and inclusive,” he added.
“I do not like to use the word small, and our ships are not small, ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 tons, but they are intimate, allowing us to offer a higher service level and experiences you cannot have on large ships.”
And all of that does not necessarily come at a higher price. Explained Conroy: “When you look at our rates compared to other luxury lines, you will see that we are very competitively priced, and because most is included, we pay more in commission to travel agents. And if you look at the premium brands, our ticket price is much higher, but when you add in all that we don’t charge for that they charge for and that is not commissionable, you will see again that our rates are competitive and we pay double or triple the commission that they pay. That should make our customers and their travel agents very happy.”
Conroy also described Silversea’s expedition business as very viable and with very good margins. He went on to say that the expedition cruises were very complementary to Silversea’s classic cruises, and many passengers who would like to visit these remote destinations can now do so without switching brands. Moreover, people who have taken expedition cruises are coming to the other ships – “appreciating the intimacy and the service level of the smaller ships.”
He is responsible for sales and marketing and guest relations for the Americas and said his vision is to maintain an “unfair” market share in favor of North America.
With Conroy aboard, Silversea has a seasoned executive with a proven track record at the helm in the Americas.
He first joined Norwegian in 1973 in the incentive sales department where he moved up to manager and then director of group sales, inventory control and customer relations.
In 1983 he moved to Royal Viking Line as manager of group sales and was later named vice president of sales. That was followed by a short stint as president and CEO of Commodore Cruise Line, before he was hired as president of start-up Renaissance Cruises. In 1992, Conroy was named president of another start up, Radisson Diamond Cruises, which eventually became Regent, where he stayed until 2013. Then, in February of this year, he joined Silversea.
“When I started, Manfredi (LeFebvre, chairman, owner and founder of Silvesea) gave me a book titled Think Like an Owner, which is basically based on four premises: Treat people with respect; share ideas, be open to ideas, and don’t fall in love with your own ideas; treat the business like it was your own; and last, but not least, have fun,” Conroy said.