Braydon Holland has taken on the role of Senior Director Sales Asia at Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). He has joined the cruise line recently for his second stint, having previously been its Sales & Marketing Director. He has spent 20 years in the cruise industry, and with nine years based in Asia, gives him substantial leverage as Asia is one of NCL’s most important markets. His new role is thus uniquely significant to the success of their business in the region. With their global return to service and while keen on taking NCL to the next level, Holland and his new team look forward to building close working relationships with their valued trade partners in India. Excerpts from the interview with Holland…
– Prashant Nayak
Tell us about your new role at NCL? How challenging will this role be for you considering the pandemic situation and that travellers are still reluctant to sail?
In my new role as the Senior Director Sales for NCL’s Asian market, I am responsible for driving the sales strategy throughout the Asia region, including India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
We’re seeing the resumption of cruise in many parts of the world now, which is helping drive positive sentiment amongst consumers but also makes right now the perfect time for me to have re-joined NCL and help take the brand to the next level.
I’m lucky enough to have been part of the NCL family some years ago when I helped to establish the brand in the region. Today, I’m looking forward to contributing to NCL’s continued success in Asia.
Though there are still some challenging conditions to navigate, it’s an exciting time for NCL, with the launch of the first new class of ships in almost a decade. Known as the Prima Class, we will be delivering six ships in six consecutive years, kicking off with Norwegian Prima in the northern hemisphere summer of 2022. She’s the most spacious of any new cruise ship in her category and truly elevates our brand.
I look forward to building close working relationships with our valued trade partners and my new team.
Do you think there is a pent-up demand for cruising globally? And why do you feel so?
Absolutely there is pent-up demand, in India, the Asia-Pacific region and globally.
As an example, shortly after announcing Norwegian Prima, she became our most in-demand ship ever, notching up the single-best booking day and best initial booking week for any of our newbuild sales in our 54-year history.
It’s no secret that many of us have been in and out of lockdown now more times than we care to count, and travel has been severely restricted. However, now that we’re seeing the pace of the vaccination drive accelerate and the global resumption of cruise in the US, UK and Europe, travellers are starting to recognize that to secure their 2022 or 2023 cruise, now is the time to plan.
To help inspire our clients and provide a behind-the-scenes look at our global return to cruise, I recommend taking a look at EMBARK-The Series, our docuseries chronicling our long-awaiting global cruise resumption.
Can you mention some factors that can lead to cautious and safe opening of confident cruising?
At NCL, we’ve been working diligently behind the scenes to resume our cruises carefully and safely. I’m proud to say, thus far, five of our 17 ships are once again welcoming guests in Europe, the US and the Caribbean, with the full fleet scheduled to welcome guests aboard in 2022. We have taken a thoughtful approach to itinerary planning in partnership with destinations and local authorities, guided every step of the way by the leading experts of the Sail Safe Global Health and Wellness Council, enhancing our already robust health and safety protocols.
100 per cent vaccination for all guests and crew is the cornerstone of our Sail Safe health safety protocols, which includes multiple layers of prevention and risk mitigation strategies such as universal testing, touchless temperature checks, medical-grade air filtration and a dedicated Health & Safety Officer on each ship who oversees the execution of the health & safety protocols on board.
We continue to evaluate and modify our health and safety protocols with our team of scientific and public health experts as science and technology evolve. For all the latest updates regarding our health and safety protocols, please visit ncl.com/sail-safe.
You have spent quite a while in the Asian cruise market! How different do you think it is from the US or the European markets?
The Asia market, in particular, is incredibly vast–but with that comes a great opportunity for growth. With so many diverse nations and interests, it’s a true melting pot of cultures. But there is more that brings us together than separates us, such as our shared desire for a quality holiday experience that allows you to visit multiple destinations while unpacking just once.
Traditionally, I would have said that the Asia market tended to book closer in than markets such as Australia and Europe. However, the current situation is changing some of these trends. With the pent-up demand brought about by the pandemic, we’re also seeing shifts in the style of itinerary guests from Asia are seeking, as they explore longer voyages that visit multiple destinations.
What are the new developments/anticipated sails at NCL in the Asia region?
We’ve just launched a brand-new promotion for Indian travellers, offering 30 per cent off all 2022 cruise fares incorporating all five Free at Sea offers, including a free beverage package, specialty dining package, onboard Wi-Fi package, shore excursion credit as well as access to our ‘3rd and 4th guest sail at a reduced rate’ offer (on select sailings).
As the global cruise resumption gathers pace, this is the perfect opportunity for Indian travellers to secure their preferred 2022 itinerary and stateroom and maximise value with virtually everything they need included in the fare.
Before the pandemic, Indians were strongly taking to the concept of cruising, year on year. Do you think India is still a potential market to consider?
India is an incredibly important market for NCL. Despite all the odds and challenges of 2020 and 2021, we know the demand is there – particularly for Europe, Alaska and Bahamas cruises – and as borders open up, we expect to see demand continue to grow.
What are your strategies for the India market? How do you look forward to connecting and working with your Indian trade partners?
As part of our “Partners First” philosophy, we’re doubling down on our investment in the travel trade, developing tools and resources that will help travel partners maximise their selling potential. Personally, I look forward to getting to know as many of our valued travel agents in India as I can, so that I can better understand how we can support them and where the opportunities lie.
At the same time, we’re continuing to invest in our consumer marketing in India to help inspire travellers to contact their travel agents to start planning their future cruise.
In your long career, tell us how has cruising evolved and changed over the years?
Innovation is everything! I love that NCL has always remained at the forefront of the modern evolution of cruising, and that’s because innovation has always been a core brand pillar for NCL. What’s more, NCL innovates with purpose because every decision is made with the guest in mind. A decade ago, who could ever have imagined a racetrack on the top of a ship? But perhaps the most important innovation is the concept of Freestyle Cruising, which we pioneered. At its core, Freestyle Cruising means holidaying the way you want, with no schedule to follow. No dress codes, no set dining tables or dining times, it’s truly modern cruising, which is why the concept continues to resonate so well with our Indian guests.