Cruise retailer Harding has expanded its relationship with Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) through a deal that will see the UK-based company take over the shipboard shopping offering on five additional ships between now and March. of 2023, bringing the total to 13.
By then, Harding Retail will become Carnival Cruise Line’s largest retail partner, with store operations on more than half the fleet. All five ships making the transition currently have retail concessions on board with Germany-based Heinemann and LVMH-owned Starboard Cruise Services.
Harding CEO James Prescott said: “We have worked hand in hand to return to full service. The award of the additional ships is a testament to Carnival’s faith in us.” Harding has been associated with CCL since 2015 and with the parent group, Carnival Corporation, for more than 30 years.
Data-driven business model
Key to the expanded partnership is a new business model supported by a data and insights program that Harding has developed over the past five years. According to Harding, it enables the retailer to identify the right customer proposition and business model for a cruise line’s specific needs.
In a statement, Jeremy Schiller, vice president of retail operations for Carnival Cruise Line, said: “The Harding team has demonstrated a breadth and depth of cruise retail experience and a collaborative approach that is key to long-term success.” . the cruise line simplified its Covid-19 protocols in mid-August, helping to boost bookings which, through the end of 2022, “have been very strong,” according to CCL president Christine Duffy.
This is good news for Harding as it rolls out to new ships. While the retailer did not disclose further details of its new model or information program, a spokesman said forbes.com: “We are now working on a partnership where our goals are aligned and where we can create a retail proposition for guests based on what they want, rather than what we can sell (profitably). While we can’t go into commercial details, it’s fair to say this is a true long-term partnership that will benefit guests, the cruise line, the retailer and the brands.”
Being data-driven and customer-centric is nothing new in High Street retail, but in travel retail and cruise business it is still a developing area. Harding has spent the last five years running more than 20,500 guest surveys on dozens of cruise ships. “Adding that to the cruise line data being shared gives us some pretty powerful information that we’re using to inform the retail proposition,” Harding’s spokesman said.
With central hubs in Sydney, Australia; Bristol, UK; and Miami, Harding has been able to expand its presence on more than 20 different cruise lines around the world, including more than 100 cruise ships.
Carnival’s share price has been under pressure since the pandemic brought cruise business to a halt for many months. The bag on Tuesday languished at less than $10fueled in part by a joule increase in capital to meet 2023 debt maturities. The company has a portfolio of nine leading cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises and Cunard.
On a positive note, in April, Miami-based trade body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) forecast that passenger volumes were expected to rebound and exceed 2019 levels by the end of 2023. Kelly Craighead , president and CEO of CLIA, said, “As the industry resumes operations, volumes are projected to recover 12% above pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2026.”
CLIA consumer research has also revealed the surprising finding that millennial travelers are the most enthusiastic about taking another cruise, with 87% indicating they will take one in the next few years, followed by Generation X with 85%.