Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Celebrity Cruises revamps loyalty program

Celebrity Cruises revamps loyalty program

By Tom Stieghorst
Celebrity Cruises has overhauled its  loyalty program, making it easier to earn additional perks and adding two elite levels to give top-tier members more to aspire to.

Celebrity is sending notifications to members of the club, which the cruise line says has about 2 million active participants.

David Brown, Celebrity’s marketing vice president in charge of the program, said guests had been asking for more in the program, which until now has had just four benefit levels.

“We wanted to recognize those guests who sailed frequently with us and kept sailing with us,” Brown said.

The previous structure was based on the number of sailings a member accumulates. So, for example, it took 10 credits to reach Elite status. Credits could be earned by taking a cruise, staying in a concierge-level suite or taking a sailing of 12 nights or more.

Going forward, the system will change to one based on cabin category, multiplied by cruise nights. So an interior cabin will earn two points, while a penthouse suite is worth 18 points.

The difference on a seven-night cruise would be 14 points vs. 126 points.

“So you can see there’s a dramatic difference based on the type of room,” Brown said.

At the same time, Celebrity is adding two more tiers, Elite Plus and Zenith, which will require more points and provide more perks. Some existing Elite members will automatically be enrolled in Elite Plus.

“We’re going to have a lot of people excited because they’re in that new level,” Brown said.

Very few members will graduate initially to Zenith, however.

“It’s not going to be easy to get to that level,” he said. “The point structures are clear. If you sail in a suite-level category for a certain amount of time, it is achievable.”

Elite status will require 300 points, Elite Plus 750 points, and Zenith will start at 3,000 points. Perks at the Zenith level include laundry service and 1,600 Internet minutes.

Celebrity studied changes in other loyalty programs before redesigning Captain’s Club. An important point, Brown said, is that no one will go backward in status as the points system changes.

There will also be no fees in the program, and points will never expire. Elite members will have lapel pins and leather luggage tags delivered to their homes starting this week.

Brown said the new system is more finely calibrated so that it’s easier to see how to get to the next level, and easier to change status by staying in a higher-level accommodation.

“It’s a really easy structure for somebody to say, if I book a little higher category of room, I’m going to increase the points for the sailing,” Brown said.

Status level in Captain’s Club will be indicated by Sea Pass card color, with Zenith members getting black cards; Elite Plus members’ cards will be burgundy.

Celebrity tested a new lounge on Infinity separate from the Captain’s Club lounge for Zenith members and high-level cabin occupants. Brown said it would begin opening the lounges on other ships next year.