I don't think I'll try to save everything from this thread ... it's too late, some posts are already gone. For example, prior to writing "I'm going to double down on the "struggling" narrative," Keith1010 objected to my characterization of Crystal as struggling. Both my first post using that word, and Keith's objection to it are already gone.
But this post is still there, so I'll save it here:
drib wrote:I'm going to double down on the "struggling" narrative.
Crystal struggles, and will continue to struggle, because they are slow to identify and implement trends. They were slow to implement all-inclusive, they were slow to implement open seating. They were slow to implement business casual attire. They were slow, and still are slow, to implement new ocean ships. (New management has been in place since mid 2017 - that new ship should have been announced by now.) They were slow to add or "spice up" new specialty restaurants.
Earlier today, I was writing about how Magic Castle at Sea has been around since 2013, but instead of figuring out the next new thing, they're going to continue with that under a new name. They're always skating on their reputation, and frankly, their ocean ships, physically, aren't really luxury anymore. They're lagging behind Viking in that respect. (If Crystal wanted a foothold on river ships, those too should have come online five years earlier.)
Crystal management is made up of followers, not leaders, and I think that's why they're always struggling to fill their ships.
I will fully stipulate that Crystal service is second to none, that their cuisine is excellent most of the time, and that their enrichment programs are better than most ... but even so, their sales force has to work way too hard fill those ocean ship, despite now having fewer cabins. *
* Observer was right that they often fill them with travel agents, which I experienced first hand in 2014 at a table for eight, six of whom were travel agents. It was very frustrating for me because they couldn't talk about the business!
There are a lot of good posts on the thread, so I'll save the HTML, and dig it up later if it appears anything else is missing.
I'm not planning on posting there again - I generally like to state my case and leave. But there are two cases on the thread, one about the actual topic, which is well described in the subject, and one about how Crystal is living in the past. But I will say something here about what Vince wrote there:
BWIVince wrote:I don't disagree one bit that Crystal is the most conservative line about evolution, but I point that finger not at Crystal's management, but their passengers. IMHO I've heard lots of great ideas over the years -- some tried and some that never made it that far -- but at the risk of offending people here, as a whole Crystal's passengers are among the most change averse I've ever seen in luxury travel. I feel like the lack of changing, and the massive amount of engineering and transition that goes into making big transitions feel small, is actually considered a feature by many of Crystal's clientele and not a bug like you present it. Crystal's management knows from market research what the market wants -- but you can see the process they have to go through every time they need to implement these changes.
In case anyone needs backup documentation for my observation, please see hundreds of pages of complaints about All Inclusive, trash can doilies, alternative dining themes, toiletry brands, bedside linens, lounge pianists, smoking policies, dress codes, and so on.
Again, that doesn't make your point untrue, I just see it through a little different lens. ...
My problem with that is - and I hope I'm not mischaracterizing Vince - that he's giving Crystal Management (CM) a free pass.
Nobody gets a free pass!
Maybe CM actually believes that their press releases are true. But all their best in class awards, 25 years running, are bogus in the present. If all those awards were true, and not just living in the past, then CM should not be struggling to fill up their ships. (And why is it that they's never even won a Wilburrrr? Their CEO is even named Wolber! Why aren't they bribing me, instead of their passengers, to get the award?)
CM should be taking lessons from Viking Ocean Management (VOM). How is it that VOM is filling up their many, many, ocean ships while requiring full payment one year in advance? Their fares are not inexpensive, in fact they're pretty similar to Crystal where there are similar cabins. I don't think VOM is worried about change at all. They're just doing something right that CM is not.