Virgin Voyages has claimed a “game-changing approach” to group bookings with a programme that rewards agents and celebrates “togetherness and human connection at sea”.
The line refers to its groups as “circles”, to promote inclusivity and closeness, and define them as a block of 10 cabins or more, including solo staterooms, which can consist of parties of up to 150 guests.
Group size and the number of parties sailing at one time are limited to make sure experience of passengers not involved “isn’t negatively impacted”, the company said.
Groups on all sailings will be eligible for Circle Bounty, which includes an onboard credit for passengers, referred to as Sailor Loot.
It can be spent during the voyage however guests wish and is determined based on the level of cabin they choose.
Insider and Sea View cabins receive $50 per cabin; Sea Terraces receive $100 per cabin and Mega RockStar and RockStar Suites receive $200 per cabin.
In addition, for every 10 cabins sold, the group will earn a 10% voyage credit known as the Circle Chest, based on the highest voyage fares.
Groups can earn credit towards their Circle Chest in increments of 10 cabins, examples of this include when 15 cabins have been sold, the credit will be based on the highest valued 10 cabins within the group, if 20 cabins are sold, credits will be awarded based on all 20 cabins, continuing on based on blocks of 10 cabins.
The line said its Circle Chest concept “puts the control of the benefit in the hands of the First Mate [agent]” and can be applied in a number of ways.
They include spending it in part, or in total, towards new cabins on the group voyage date that can be used by guests or the agent.
Applied prior to final payment as a reduction of voyage fare across any of the purchased cabins on the group booking – during which case the agent’s commission will be protected based on the full voyage fare.
Agents can also create a pre-funded account that can be used onboard during the voyage to treat guests with extras including spa treatments and shore excursions.
To launch its groups programme, Virgin Voyages is offering a promotion for new 2020 groups booked until 31 December 2019.
During this period groups will receive double the standard Sailor Loot amount per cabin, which means Insider and Sea View cabins receive $100 per cabin; Sea Terraces receive $200 per cabin and Mega RockStar and RockStar Suites receive $400 per cabin.
Agents will also receive a 5% bonus commission.
The offer is valid on all 2020 sailings except the line’s maiden voyage on 1 April and Sir Richard Branson’s Birthday Bash on 15 July.