The Richard Branson-created cruise line wants to disrupt the industry and it’s trying to do that with its bold new loyalty program.
Every aspect of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages looks to disrupt the business model that powers Royal Caribbean Internations (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report. Those two companies go after families by catering to mom and dad by offering them onboard “clubs” to entertain their kids, allowing for a family vacation that also includes adult alone time.
Virgin does away with that whole concept by getting rid of kids altogether. Doi9ng that has allowed the company to tailor every aspect of its sailings to an over-18 (really a 21-and-over) crowd. That means there’s no buffet full of chicken fingers and kid-friendly fare, in fact there’s no buffet at all, and the onboard entertainment does not have to factor in any kids in the crowd, because there aren’t any.
Branson’s company has tried to reimagine every aspect of cruising to make the experience better. This has included simple things like making trips nearly all-inclusive (minus alcoholic beverages and some fancy coffees/juices mostly) and making most of the rooms onboard balconies (or sea terraces in Virgin parlay).
Now, the cruise line, which had the unfortunate problem of beginning its life during the pandemic, has a new take on a loyalty program. It’s different than what Royal Caribbean and Norwegian offer, but it has to be because how many frequent “sailors” (another piece of Virgin speak) could a company that completed its first sailing in August 2021 have?
Virgin’s New Program Has Two 2022 Promotions
Virgin Voyages’ new loyalty program is called “The Sailing Club,” and it will launch fully in 2023, with a sort of preview version of the program operating this year. The company is still working on the specific perks and tiers that plan will include, and has asked sailing fans for their suggestions for what they would like to see, as well as to participate in surveys and focus groups. Sailing fans can e-mail the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2022, the program will offer two benefits:
Deep Blue Extras: This will reward past sailors with free champagne, anytime boarding and premium WiFI to exclusive cocktail parties and laundry services.Red Hot Booking Bonus Months: Running from Aug. 30 through Nov. 15, 2022, any new qualifying booking made during these select (excluding bookings made with existing voyage credits), will allow all qualifying Sailors to be treated to special onboard spending perks including “an extra $200 in Sailor Loot (aka onboard spending credit), which is combinable with all other promotions, offering rich rewards to loyal Sailors.”
“This brand was built on innovation, so we’re taking a truly unique approach and developing a program that will give Sailors a taste of what’s to come while rewarding those who’ve supported the brand all along,” said Virgin Voyages President Nirmal Saverimuttu. “I’ve met so many incredible Sailors – many who’ve voyaged with us more than 10 times since we’ve launched – and this new program is a thank you for their commitment. We’d also love their help in shaping the future and are seeking their ideas to create a game-changing loyalty program they’ll fall in love with.”
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Virgin Shares Loyalty Program Details
Because the cruise line is relatively new, it has laid out a simple three-tiered loyalty program for the rest of the year. Its 2022 “Perks” to all qualifying Sailors under the following term, which the company shared in a press release (the words below ar Virgin Voyages’):
Sea-Blazers: Pioneers who took to the high seas in 2021 were dubbed Sea-Blazers to match the trail-blazing brand. These Sailors were the first to come aboard and will be rewarded handsomely for their support. Additional perks include a $125 Bar Tab Bonus for life.Sea-Rovers: We’re coining anyone who has sailed with Virgin Voyages twice in 2022 as a Sea-Rover as they too, are bold and inspired. Sea Rovers will earn a $100 Bar Tab Bonus for two years (valid through 2024). Match & Sea More Sailors: World travelers enrolled in other cruise and select airline travel rewards programs will now have the opportunity to come aboard and Virgin Voyages will match their status. They’ll also be granted Sea-Rover status, which includes the $100 Bar Tab Bonus for two years (valid through 2024).
It’s a bold offer designed to quickly give loyalty status to frequent passengers on other cruise lines. That’s an important move when it comes to getting Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, or any other cruise line’s loyal customers to consider making a switch.