Given that both Cunard and P&O are going to continue selling both Vantage and Getaway fares, what’s needed is something to make Vantage fares more attractive even with the price difference.
At the moment we have the following advantages:
- you get to choose your cabin, and you certainly know your cabin number at the end of the booking process;
- you get to choose your dining preference (although actually getting this isn’t guaranteed….);
- you get free shuttle buses (from next year).
So how could Vantage fares be made more attractive? Well, here are some thoughts:
- Give Vantage fare customers more Loyalty Club points per night than Getaway fare passengers. Currently P&O awards 10 points per night, so when you’ve done 60 nights you’ve earned 600 points. A night on a Vantage fare should be worth more loyalty club points than a night on a Getaway fare. So how about 12 or 15 points per Vantage fare night? The thresholds for moving up to the next level should then be expressed in points, not nights, and Vantage fare passengers would accumulate their loyalty points faster than those Getaway fare passengers who did the same cruises.
- Give Vantage fare passengers a guarantee that their dining preference request will be met. I’ve read posts on Cruise Critic from Vantage fare passengers who found out, on embarkation, that their requested dining preferences had not been met. Later in the cruise they met Getaway fare passengers who been given the very same dining preferences that the Vantage fare passengers had requested and not received, and that seems strange. I understand that in the traditional situation where all passengers were considered at the same time some passengers had to be disappointed, but I think that as we are in a two-tier situation (of the lines’ making) there is a case for giving Vantage fare passengers priority and a guarantee;
- Give Vantage fare passengers priority for upgrades. Again, I’ve read accounts of Getaway passengers who have received significant upgrades – from an Outside cabin to a Super deluxe balcony cabin on Ventura or Azura, for example – while Vantage fare passengers who booked earlier, and paid higher fares, did not get upgraded. Again, I understand that previously whether or not you got an upgrade was both rare and random, but I think that in the new situation Vantage fare passengers should have priority for upgrades if they’re available and if they want one.
- How about priority embarkation for Vantage fare passengers? This would be easy to do, certainly at the Ocean terminal. At the moment, when you arrive (assuming you arrive early), you’re given an embarkation card, on which there is a letter. They hand out the cards with ‘A’ on them, then ‘B’, etc, and when embarkation starts they ask for “passengers holding embarkation marked with ‘A’ to make their way….”. Just give Getaway fare passengers embarkation cards marked ‘Z’ regardless of when they arrive.
- And finally, how about priority tendering for Vantage fare passengers? Again, a similar ‘tendering ticket’ system is used on the ships. Just give Getaway passengers high-number tickets, whenever they turn up.
OK, I recognise that some of these won’t happen. (Indeed, most likely none of them will!) But it must be in the lines’ interest to have as many passengers as possible paying Vantage fares and (given the savings that a Getaway fare can bring) they’ve got to offer some positive advantages to encourage passengers to do so. The list above is my suggestion.