RCL Cruises Ltd is to create three individual businesses for each of its brands in the UK, claiming they have each now grown to a size that warrants “increased focus and investment”.
The new structure, which will take effect from January 1, 2014, will see current associate vice president & general manager Jo Rzmowska become managing director for Celebrity Cruises. A recruitment process is already underway both internally and externally for separate managing directors for the Royal Caribbean and Azamara Club Cruises brands.
Each individual managing director will also get his or her own commercial, marketing and sales teams, as well as separate agent trainers and trade marketing budgets.
But the proposed structural and operational changes also include the consolidation of guest and trade call centres around the world – including the UK and Ireland team based in Addlestone in Surrey – into just three multi-lingual contact centres in Guatemala, Romania and the Netherlands, operated by an external partner, Xerox.
Under the proposal, the Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises UK and Ireland guest and trade service call centres would be operated from Guatemala, resulting in the potential redundancy of 100 people. A period of consultation with potentially affected employees in Addlestone has begun today.
A Celebrity Cruises guest and trade services team, dedicated to the UK and Ireland, will be set up in the UK, employing 50 people.
Dominic Paul, who remains as vice president and managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the proposed restructure was an important milestone in the history of the global RCL Cruises Ltd business:
“The only other market that we have this kind of focus is North America. This is the first time we have given any other market such attention. We have seen that when a market gets to a certain size of importance, this is the structure that works best to grow.
“The UK is the second-largest market globally and this move is a recognition of the growth achieved so far and to best position each cruise line for future development and growth.”
The three RCL brands collectively in the UK and Ireland have seen 8% growth in the last five years versus the overall cruise market in the UK and Ireland which has grown at 3% in the same period.
Asked if it meant the company, which is the second largest cruise operator in the world, would deploy more than the current five ships to the UK as a result of the restructure, Paul said: “This underlines our commitment to the UK market. We are investing in the brands and see the future potential for more growth. We hope that this will mean we can bring new ships into this market.”
The company said the partnership with Xerox would allow it to address efficiency challenges that are common in any business that has experienced rapid global expansion.
“As a renowned leader in this area, Xerox supplies the contact centres of many customer service focused brands globally. This proposal follows an extensive global review specifically looking at the operational efficiency of multiple guest and trade service centres around the world,” a statement said.
“All of the proposed changes are being reviewed in order to best position the business for future growth, whilst maintaining a competitive edge and strong customer service for trade partners and guests.”
Rzymowska said of her new position: “I am very passionate about all three of our brands, but the Celebrity role is the opportunity that I have been asked to look at and I am very happy with that.”
She described the search for her counterparts on the Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises brands as “significant” because they are such “key roles going forward”.
And commenting on the creation of separate teams below them, she added: “There will be opportunities for the [current] team.”
Rzymowska said agents could expect to see more attention paid to them under the new structure.
“Everybody is in business to run a profitable business. And we believe that the trade seeing more of us, and us being able to give them more focused, dedicated time and more investment, will result in increased profitability for them.”
Rzymowska added: “Changes made earlier this year to the commissions structure are working for the business. There are currently no plans to make any changes to the base commission structures of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, including when the dedicated brand teams take effect in January 2014.”