Royal Caribbean UK & I sales boss hails ‘super important’ trade

The new UK and Ireland sales boss at Royal Caribbean International has reaffirmed the importance of travel agent partners as the cruise line targets further growth.

Aaron Langford took up the role of UK and Ireland senior sales director three weeks ago, tasked with strengthening trade partnerships and leading his sales team.

He told a Travel Weekly webcast: “The one thing I’ve been very clear about…is that we have ambitions to grow and we will not grow without the trade.

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“There is a lot of opportunity for the trade going forward – a lot of cool stuff that’s coming out.”

He pointed to Icon of the Seas’ inaugural in January; the launch in July of Utopia of the Seas; and Star of the Seas, which sets sail in August 2025.

“The trade is super important to come on that journey with us. So [I am] really excited,” he said.

Langford, previously based in the revenue management team at Royal Caribbean’s UK headquarters between 2008 and 2019, relocated to head office in Miami in 2020 to take on a centralised revenue management role.

He said his four years in Miami were a “real education”, giving him a “different perspective” and new skills.

His first three weeks in his new UK & Ireland role have been “fantastic”, he said, adding: “I’ve met a few good trade partners so far and many more to come.

“I’m on the road pretty much through to the end of the year and at very many conferences.”

He said trade partners are in tune with Royal Caribbean’s strategy to tap into the mass market of holidaymakers who travel by plane.

“The opportunity that I’ve heard from a few different partners is actually quite encouraging because it aligns with our strategy to move in that way as well,” he commented.

Currently, he is planning for the mini-wave period later this year and then the key wave period in the new year.

Langford will work closely with Gerard Nolan, the new EMEA vice-president, who is taking over from Ben Bouldin, who becomes president of Royal Caribbean International China in August.

Bouldin added: “[Langford] has got a nice pipeline of super-cool initiatives to come over the next six months [for the trade] which he will put his own stamp on.

“We’ve got an enviable list of things coming between now and the next six to 12 months.

“Aaron and Gerard will put their own stamp on those and come up with some other things.”

Bouldin pointed to the continuation of partnerships with Eurovision and Fulham FC, as well as the new ships coming into service.

He also hailed the way the group develops its talent and aims to promote internal candidates where possible.

“If you can’t bring internal candidates through your organisation, you’re not doing something right. We absolutely aspire to bring talent through the organisation,” Bouldin said.

“Over the last 10 years, the bench strength of our organisation is probably the highest it’s been in Europe and I hope Gerard and Aaron and the rest of the leadership team can really nurture that.”

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