April 13, 2009
Dear Crown & Anchor Diamond Plus, Diamond and Platinum Members,
I am writing to provide you with an update regarding the recent changes to our Crown & Anchor® Loyalty Program.
Let me begin by thanking you for being loyal customers of Royal Caribbean International®. These are remarkable times - economic challenges, new modes of communication, amazing new ships and so many other changes that impact our lives at every turn. Especially in these times, we appreciate your loyalty as Crown & Anchor Society members.
As you may know, we recently announced a number of changes to our Crown & Anchor Loyalty Program. Many of our Diamond Members have expressed considerable unhappiness about the change in eligibility for access to our Concierge Lounges. While we knew the reaction would be negative, it has been more negative than we anticipated. This underscores how phenomenally passionate our most loyal customers are about their Royal Caribbean experiences. We believe one of our strengths that inspires such loyalty is our ability to learn from others and especially from our Crown & Anchor customers. With this in mind, I will comment on the change in eligibility regarding our Concierge Lounges and also inform you of some new enhancements that will improve your experience onboard our ships.
Our decision to limit access to the Concierge Lounges was based on the unfortunate but inescapable fact that we cannot deliver an acceptable experience in lounges that were never designed to handle so many people. We regret that the crowding in our Concierge Lounges prevents us from delivering the experience we intended. It also prevents us from being able to grandfather in Concierge Lounge access for existing Diamond level members. We deeply regret having to restrict this access, but we are committed to delivering an exceptional Concierge Lounge experience. Having said that, we realize we should have provided more notice of our decision, which carries such consequences. To that end, we will delay the implementation date for the change in eligibility from July 1, 2009, to September 1, 2009.
Before I address the additional initiatives we will implement, I would like to summarize the physical or "hardware" status of our fleet as it relates to Concierge Lounges and Diamond Lounges, taking into account all 22 Royal Caribbean International ships that are now open for sale.
Five ships (our Freedom class and Oasis class) have both Concierge Lounges and Diamond Lounges. We are excited about the Concierge Lounge overlooking the Boardwalk and the Diamond Lounge overlooking the Royal Promenade on our forthcoming Oasis of the SeasSM and Allure of the SeasSM.
Five ships (Monarch of the Seas®, Majesty of the Seas®, Vision of the Seas®, Grandeur of the Seas® and Rhapsody of the Seas®) have no Concierge Lounges and two ships (Splendour of the Seas® and Legend of the Seas®) have limited Concierge Lounges.
Ten ships have Concierge Lounges but no Diamond Lounges (Enchantment of the Seas®, as well as the ships in our Voyager class and Radiance class). While we don't currently have plans to add Diamond Lounges to these ships, we will look for opportunities to invest in Diamond Lounges as we go forward.
The strong response from our Diamond members regarding our recent changes demonstrates how much the Concierge Lounges are valued and we clearly should honor that response. The feedback we have received from Diamond members falls primarily into one of the three following categories:
• Preserving the social aspect - the ability to meet and mingle with other members
• Maintaining free or reduced price drinks
• And, access to concierge-type services for ice show tickets and other activities
In order to address the first two interests for Diamond members, outside the Concierge Lounge, effective September 1 we will offer them a dedicated VIP private party in one of our bars or lounges. This may be held in the Viking Crown Lounge, or any other bar or lounge designated by the ship. In this dedicated area, from approximately 5 to 8 p.m., we will offer complimentary wine and champagne and a happy hour discount of 25 percent off all other beverages. This will be offered every day of each sailing and will replace our recently announced one-time per-cruise special Diamond party.
Additionally, we will offer a new continental breakfast from approximately 8 to 10 a.m. in one of the rooms adjacent to the main dining room onboard. During these morning hours, a crew member will be present and will provide services such as obtaining ice show tickets, and other assistance. We believe these changes will address the primary desires our Diamond members have expressed. These enhancements will be instituted on all our ships that don't have a Diamond Lounge today.
A number of Crown & Anchor members have placed the Concierge Lounge issue in the context of a perceived sequence of "cutbacks" that taken together have reduced the quality of the product we offer. We take these comments seriously. I am pleased to inform you that in 2009 we are seeing one of the most meaningful year-over-year improvements in our guest satisfaction ratings in memory. Apart from the obvious - Independence of the Seas® entering the fleet, Empress of the Seas® and Sovereign of the Seas® leaving the fleet and Oasis of the Seas soon to join - systemic improvements such as My Time DiningSM, our suite enhancements, the new debarkation process, and numerous smaller initiatives are being very positively recognized by guests, travel agents and the media.
While we understand not everyone is happy about every change taking place in our fleet, we appreciate your loyalty to our company and we sincerely hope you will continue to choose Royal Caribbean International. It gives us no pleasure to hear from aggrieved Crown & Anchor loyalty customers. Our goal is to earn your advocacy and your return to our fleet by providing you with truly memorable vacations and by recognizing and rewarding your loyalty.
Our mantra at Royal Caribbean International, besides delivering the "Wow," is "continuous improvement." We constantly strive to find the right balance, so our product evolves in ways that our guests, especially our most loyal guests, are comfortable with. Our ratings and most communications we receive indicate that the balancing is working. However, occasionally we stumble and when we do we try to react quickly. This may be such an instance. We are committed to earning the faith you place in us. I hope the additional enhancements explained in this letter demonstrate our commitment.
These changes will be reflected on our website in the next 48 hours.
Thank you very much for being our customer and for your loyalty to Royal Caribbean International.
Adam M. Goldstein
President and Chief Executive Officer
Royal Caribbean International
I guess it pays to have dance lessons when you're a CEO. Such eloquent dribble.
RCI has also rather quietly named a new Senior VP of Marketing, Betsy O'Rourke. Sounds like someone got the axe over the Royal Chumps and other "occasional" (to use Mr. Goldstein's word) stumbles.
I know I'm new to all this, but I do own a company of my own, so read with interest Mr. Goldstein's letter. I thought it very heartfelt and honest in admitting to making a mistake. Then, to read a poster call it 'dribble' was startling to me. Sounds like many here want blood or as the expression goes, 'his first born child'. http://cruise-chat.com/groupee_commo.../icon_wink.gif
But seriously, I had read on another board of a Diamond member who never went to the lounge because it was always too crowded. So here you have an exec of a company co-oberating what many have already complained about and in so doing, is trying to fix it.
I know I <ticked> ya'all off before by questioning the negativity and I don't mean to <tick> you off again, but I'm curious as to what you think they need to do to fix this situation ... or is it simply not fixable?
<edit to remove words which violate forum rules>
He wouldn't have admitted to making a mistake unless the negative press and outrage from C&A members pushed him to do it. It isn't as though Mr. Goldstein was sitting around the office last week and suddenly thought "you know, maybe we went too far with the changes". It was driven by the fear of losing members, and perhaps by more than a few cancellations based on the initial changes to the program.
Regardless of the motivation, I think the revised changes are reasonable. I never said the crowding issue was not valid, just that they had gone way beyond that problem in their "fix". I wish to note that Gold members will still lose the right to attend the C&A party, and instead just get a shout-out from the Captain at his new cash bar cocktail party. A new aspect of BYOB.
Before anyone else gets offended by my use of the word "dribble", I will qualify it with this, it is my personal opinion that the letter sounded like eloquent dribble. He reminded me of a VP I worked for previously, that would give employees a song and dance, never admitting to or rectifying a problem, just sugar coating it.
It's my opinion that what they're doing now is fair and balanced. Most Diamond Members will probably enjoy not having to fight the crowded concierge lounge anymore. It's now a slight cut-back - not a total cut-off. Things should quiet down a lot with this resolution. I probably tooted my horn as loud and any one, even though I still have the Concierge lounge access with my Diamond Plus Status. I just thought it was a drastic policy change to impose on other loyal customers of Royal Caribbean. I'm appeased with this new policy. Now I can be with my friends, having a glass of wine or champagne before dinner; and I can do it any night of the week.
Nice to hear Sonny V. http://cruise-chat.com/groupee_commo...icon_smile.gif As a business owner, I am always looking for ways in which to reach positive resolutions to conflict. I used to think people liked complaining just to complain, and I'm sure that is true for some, but in these trying times, I think people just want to be heard and in being heard, to feel empowered.
I would think everyone who participated in letting RCI know they weren't happy with their decisions must feel empowered now. That makes me smile. It means the little people can still be heard when they come together in critical mass.
Kudos to all of you who voiced your dissent.
What is annoying is that I've not received this new e-mail from Adam. In fact I never received the first one when they initially cut the perks, yet it was sent to my wife's e-mail address even though I am the primary diamond member.
More evidence of the dysfunctional administrative services at RCI, which includes their website.
For the second time I have sent a note to the C&A desk asking why this is happening. It isn't because of my spam filters because I do get e-mails from RCI regarding sales and special offers. http://cruise-chat.com/groupee_commo...n_rolleyes.gif
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