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Selling the general public on vacation cruises can be a challenging thing, according to Bonnie Levengood, Senior Vice President of Marketing for MSC Cruises USA. But the company wanted to reward its most loyal customers.
As a result, MSC Cruises launched a new loyalty program called MSC Voyagers Club.
Loyalty360 caught up with Levengood to learn more about the new loyalty program.
What factors prompted the launch of the new loyalty program and what makes it unique?
MSC Cruises wanted to design a program that rewarded our most loyal guests while at the same time giving all members of the MSC Voyagers Club access to increased benefits and discounts.
The Loyalty Match aspect of the MSC Voyagers Club is unique for a cruise line. We realize that many travelers have built up loyalty with other travel reward programs and therefore may hesitate to try a different type of vacation where they don’t have status. With our program, we’re honoring loyalty status from other cruise lines, but also from land-based hotels in an attempt to attract the new to cruise market. Our mission for Loyalty Match is to make customers feel like they are VIP on their first cruise.
What are your goals for the program?
Our primary goals are to increase customer loyalty, attract the new to cruise market, and ensure we’re delivering an exceptional vacation experience to all our guests before, during, and after their cruise. We made the program as simple as possible for guests to join – before they’ve even set sail with MSC for the first time – hoping to encourage all of our guests to sign up and take advantage of the many benefits the program offers.
We have also given more customers access to higher discounts on dozens of sailings simply for being a member. With our previous MSC Club membership, you would have to be a Gold or Black Card member to realize a significant discount.
Did customer feedback play a role in this launch and, if so, in what way?
Yes, when creating the new MSC Voyagers Club we listened to our customers and developed a program that would reward our most loyal guests and allow for faster growth across the various tiers to higher-value membership.
For instance, guests are now rewarded depending on the experience they booked–either Bella, Fantastica, Aurea, or MSC Yacht Club–as well as length of stay. In addition, points are rewarded for onboard spend as well as pre-paid services, such as shore excursions, spa treatments and beverage packages. One of the top requests from our highest tier members was priority embarkation/disembarkation as well as the ability to do late stateroom checkout when the ship returns to port. We incorporated these requests into our new program to ensure our top-tier members receive perks that are of value to them.
How do you define customer loyalty and has that definition evolved in recent years?
Customer loyalty is much more comprehensive than a retention percentage year over year. Retention numbers take a look back on how well we did often after it is too late to affect a customer’s loyalty. For this reason, we measure net promoter scores which give real time indications on the likelihood of a customer to recommend our company to a friend. If we receive a low score, we can immediately impact that channel and make changes that increase loyalty. Our goal is to have all of our interactions with customers measured this way so that our entire organization is customer focused.
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