Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Royal Caribbean Revises Crown & Anchor Society Benefits For Diamond Level Members (Again)

Last month I told you about revisions made by Royal Caribbean to the Crown & Anchor Society Benefits For Past Passengers.

Subsequent to the changes, one particular group of past passengers caused a virtual firestorm over a specific "lost" benefit. I'm referring to Diamond level members (those with ten Royal Caribbean cruises under their belts), who literally flooded Internet message boards to bemoan the loss of Concierge Lounge privileges. I was really shocked at their DIS-loyalty to the very cruise line to which they were supposedly so loyal. Some stated they would cancel booked cruises and "never sail on Royal Caribbean again!" Of course that's often the response when something happens to irritate message board groupies.

Which perk was it exactly that they were going to miss the most? The letter below that was sent to Diamond level Crown & Anchor Society members on April 13th outlines three. I've suspected all along that the "social" aspect of the Concierge Lounge wasn't their top priority. Neither were concierge-type services. While a colleague felt the "Diamonds" were most ticked off at their loss of bragging rights, I've felt all along that it was the free happy-hour-style drinks every evening. A brief look at posts in response to the letter has proved my contention to be the most accurate. Free or reduced-cost drinks trump ice show tickets every time.

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. 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 Sept 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 ships that are now open for sale.

• Five ships (Freedom class & 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 Seas and Allure of the Seas.
• 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 Sept 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 Dining, 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. 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, 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.

Sincerely,
Adam M. Goldstein
President & Chief Executive Officer
Royal Caribbean International

15 comments:

John & Kiki said...

I read Mr. Adam M. Goldstein's letter......big woop. We get to pay 75% for something that was free. We don't get the wine tasting event anymore, and the list goes on. Carnival and Princess are looking better by the day. Our last RCCL cruise will be in August, we wouldn't be going on it but I couldn't find a replacement line with the same cruise date so were stuck.

John & Kiki said...

As far as the "letter" that was sent to Diamond level Crown & Anchor Society members on April 13th. We never received one much like everything Crown and Anchor should have mailed out to us.

John & Kiki said...

I'll bet you don't have the guts to post this on yout little self centered blog. You say we show DIS-loyalty to the very cruise line to which they were supposedly so loyal....the Diamonds, we're the ones spending our hard eraned money to cruise with RCCL seems to me Royal is the one being DIS-Loyal. They cut the throats of the very people that keep their doors open.

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Well, I guess this shows I have guts. It's my blog and I'm entitled to publish what I see. What I've seen overer the years has included cruise lines (not just RCI) pushed into corners to change policies by large and outspoken groups of online message board posters.

RCI didn't make that "Diamond" member alteration just to tick you off. The concierge lounges were designed for suite occupants and became overcrowded. Book a suite. No problem.

As for being self-centered, take a good, hard look at this blog. Most entries are informative and only on occasion do I editorialize.

Have a nice life.

Linda

Anonymous said...

Are there any good "Philadelphia Lawyers" that are Diamond members? Can R.C. legally change the rules in midstream?

Anonymous said...

Linda:

You really are a dope. Is the fact that someone enjoys mingling with others AND having a free drink make them a bad person? You saying "Book a Suite" is the same as saying "Let them eat cake".

Anonymous said...

I Agree with the last post. Linda you are a dope. Your comments confirm it.

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Regarding the last two "anonymous" comments,

I may be a dope in your eyes, but you've proven my point.

Also, I realize that both comments are from the same person at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey so you may want to restrain yourself from agreeing with your own comments in the future. Or at least make them on your employer's time.

Linda

Anonymous said...

Linda,

Thank you for posting this all in one place. I am disgusted at the postings from people on this blog. As a Diamond Member, a change had to be made, and I believe that the changes and compromises made by RCL are more than adequate.

Anonymous said...

Good info and thanks for making it easy to post comments. I found the blog honest and fair...... thanks Hudson Fla

Anonymous said...

Check out this video about Royal's Crown and Anchor Society:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq8GCBZr35E

Lyn Binks said...

clicked on this seaching for infor on crown & anchor benifits, can not belive that people can be so nasty in their comments. Hope I never meet them on a cruise!!

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Lyn, I agree with you. Some people can get incredibly nasty when they feel entitled.

Linda

Anonymous said...

Some people are so rude. I will gladly book a suite to be in a concierge lounge that they are not allowed to be in any longer. I think RCCL did the right thing.

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