What are the key ingredients for successfully launching the Rolls Royce of the cruise industry?
Money and resumes, judging from the prelaunch marketing of Seabourn Cruise Line, which promises to deliver the most luxurious travel experience in the world.
$4.5 million for start-up
Before the 212-pax. Seabourn Pride leaves the shipyard in December, the start-up cruise line will have spent $4.5 million on marketing and sales, hiring key staff and establishing its administration, according to Warren Titus, President of the line.
It is more than some start-up ventures spend on acquiring a ship and marketing themselves.
Travel trade promotion got underway last October with trade advertising and direct mail; consumer advertising was launched in January with a brochure released in July.
"While marketing strategy depends entirely on the nature of operations, our market segment requires almost one-on-one marketing," Titus said.
Recognizing that money alone may not be enough, the cruise line has also hired an executive staff suited to the job, according to industry insiders. While the cruise line is owned by a Norwegian-based company, its U.S. operations are headed up by Warren Titus, who for 17 years was President and later Chairman of Royal Viking Line, and has established a solid reputation as an operator with the luxury cruising public and travel agents alike.
At 73, Titus looks more like a slightly greying Clark Gable than an industry veteran that has come out of retirement to take the helm of the new cruise line. He was featured in the cruise line's introductory triple- and double-spread four-color advertising in the travel trade press to achieve instant recognition, according to Titus.
Dressed in a tuxedo and seemingly standing on a ship's deck in the moonlight, female travel agents and magazine readers found the ads attractive and "sexy in a classy way."
(In more recent ads, Titus has been replaced by a gaucho, however.)
But while Titus may appear to be the cruise line, he is backed up by a team of experienced executives, mainly from Royal Viking Line.
In a recent interview with CIN, Titus said he was "striving to present a quality of cruising that will have no equal in its appeal to the most discriminating travelers."
"I believe the market likes smaller ships," he said, "not a yacht or a new concept that cruise passengers and travel agents would be unfamiliar with."
Titus is looking at the existing upscale cruise market, but is also looking at converting a younger market - "in the 40's and up."
In its sales literature, the line has strived to present an image of uniqueness. Its brochure is adorned with watercolor paintings of scenery which sometime don't even hint at a cruise, but instead features the line's shore excursions including a gaucho barbecue in Argentina.
At about $600 a day, Titus claims his cruises, which range from seven to 14 days with a series of combinations up to 24 and 60 days, are selling well.
A second $46 million sister ship has also been contracted, scheduled for delivery in 1989.