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If you could ask Michael Bayley one question. . .


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My question would be, "As with every problem, there is an opportunity to make something better. Given the questionable state of Royal's reduced customer and travel agent services, what have you learned, and what will you do differently going forward?"

Craft your question as if you were a reporter trying to gain knowledge for your audience (rather than a rant or vent as if you were a White House Press Corp member). 

EDIT: Nevermind.

Edited by Baked Alaska
Clarification and a "nevermind."
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38 minutes ago, Baked Alaska said:

My question would be, "As with every problem, there is an opportunity to make something better. Given the questionable state of Royal's reduced customer and travel agent services, what have you learned, and what will you do differently going forward?"

Craft your question as if you were a reporter trying to gain knowledge for your audience rather than a rant or vent.

I'd love to say I'd come up with a great question but I'd likely go full caveman and just say "Need vacation. When cruise?"

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My question would be "Many of your customers are confused why refunds (for cancelled cruises) are being issued in several partial payments spaced over several weeks (months). Please provide some insight to why this is the case so that your customers' expectations can be adjusted accordingly."

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45 minutes ago, twangster said:

Why isn't there greater consistency with the suite product and benefits across the fleet?

Big reason I have been hesitant booking on the smaller ships.  I have oasis this year and anthem next year. Not sure I'm going to want to go a class below anthem at this point... but those itineraries do look nice

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Why is your back office struggling to get ALL the refunds due back to the consumers?  I understand this situation has never presented itself in your industry, but with the way technology is, I find it hard to believe a company your size HASN'T gotten it under control yet!  Very similar to the roll-out of your new web site in March 2018 which was a disaster!

Not part of the question but I used this very blog to search "roll-out" and all the messages appeared!

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14 hours ago, nova_gal said:

My question would be "Many of your customers are confused why refunds (for cancelled cruises) are being issued in several partial payments spaced over several weeks (months). Please provide some insight to why this is the case so that your customers' expectations can be adjusted accordingly."

 

12 hours ago, RBRSKI said:

Why is your back office struggling to get ALL the refunds due back to the consumers?  I understand this situation has never presented itself in your industry, but with the way technology is, I find it hard to believe a company your size HASN'T gotten it under control yet!  Very similar to the roll-out of your new web site in March 2018 which was a disaster!

Not part of the question but I used this very blog to search "roll-out" and all the messages appeared!

The short answer is: That is just how short on cash Royal is and by giving obscure partial payments greatly reduces if not eliminates the legal footing a canceled passenger might bring in civil court.

 

The long answer: All the accessible loan money probably has covenants stating that it can not be used for refunding customers. This actually makes a lot of sense, you just have to view it from the point of the bank. In commercial paper the strings attached are called covenants. Examples of covenants might be executives can not create a golden parachute for themselves with the funds, no stock buy backs, or the money can only be used for maintaining fixed assets because if this all goes down the toilet, the bank can make a legal claim against the title of those fixed assets. The bank can't make a legal claim against customers who received a refund. I'm guessing that the billions of available loans are not able to be used for this purpose.

So customers desiring a refund need to be paid from cash from three main sources: cash previously on hand, cash from new cruise sales, or cash from newly sold (treasury shares) shares of stock. Common sense tells me those aren't the most robust streams of income today and with a large company like Royal there are likely a lot of other expenses and contracts contending for that pool of money. How the CFO prioritizes which squeaky wheel gets grease? This is triage. It's a day by day basis of fixing that days most urgent needs. Every workday is a nightmare and there is no end in sight. Oh, and they already spent all that cash on hand left over from last year.

So there are a bunch of customers Royal rightfully owes money to. There is some cash to pay them, but not all of them in their entirety. So they drag their feet, postponing the payment of any money. The make no promises of payment but a lot of innuendo. They look for any reason to reduce those payments. And then they begin to give payments in random amounts, no certain percentage, no per diem, otherwise no recognizable methodology. Therefore it looks like a cumbersome system, Royal is just being Royal, and the IT department is now working in accounting. And customers just feel shortchanged, not out and out ripped off. And, if this were to really go down the toilet; the legal standing of a partially refunded customer is much, much weaker as to one who received nothing. And as a potential class action case of partially refunded customers, their amounts are all over the place and it's a hard to figure out because you can't just say this cruise contract was unpaid, you have to subtract a couple random amounts to come up with the unpaid balance. It's a purposeful mess.

 

Got it? 

 

 

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If I had to ask one, I'm trying to think of a question I might actually get an answer to instead of "we're still working on it".

So I'd pick between one of these questions:

"The Port of Galveston indicated at a recent meeting they received notice you were considering replacing Allure with Anthem until the new terminal could be built. Is that still the plan?"

or 

"How would you characterize the future of the Royal Amplification program as it relates to the remaining ships due to have work done in the next 2 years?"

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@Matt, thanks for the explanation about the foot-dragging with payments. While it's good information to have and helps understand why stuff is coming out in a trickle, knowing that by doing this they can likely avoid having everybody come after them should they declare bankruptcy doesn't make me feel any better at all. I'm waiting for just a couple thousand dollars of Cruise Planner purchases to be refunded; if I was waiting for a multi-thousand dollar cruise refund to be posted and knew that through these shenanigans I could possibly be out most of it if the worst happened, I'd probably have an ulcer waiting for the final dollars to show up on my card. 😢 

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"What steps is the company taking to ensure that all customer-service channels -- whether via phone, email, social media, or travel agents -- are all on the same page, offering a consistent experience for customers, whether those who are currently booked or those who are considering cruises in the future?"

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54 minutes ago, Chadster said:

"What steps is the company taking to ensure that all customer-service channels -- whether via phone, email, social media, or travel agents -- are all on the same page, offering a consistent experience for customers, whether those who are currently booked or those who are considering cruises in the future?"

I was thinking this, not just now, but for years to come. I don't blame the customer service agents, it's lack of training. It's frustrating, each agent will give a completely different answer to the simplest questions.

My perfect example: *(Calling the Groups Customer Service)*

"Hi, how can I get little gift bags to everyone in my group?"

  • Agent 1: Well, you can try and find their room steward and ask them to put it in a room at turn down service.
  • Agent 2: I'll get you in touch with the onboard groups person who will personally get it to the correct room steward for delivery, the fee will be $x.xx (I forget a buck or three) per bag.

Clearly I went with Agent 2's advice and it worked out perfectly. Had I settled for the firsts agents response I would have been running around like crazy and super stressed, probably would have just handed it to them in person.

Edited by sk8erguy1978
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3 minutes ago, HeWhoWaits said:

how do you continue to have such an incompetent IT department

Having led an IT organization I have some insight and have often thought about Royal's IT organization.  From all indications it's not an incompetent department but appears to be funded so it is exactly what we experience.  When it comes to IT you get what you pay for.  The state of IT is a direct reflection on senior leadership themselves.  

As I've worked in IT and later with IT organizations as a consultant I've seen trends emerge.  In some companies IT is viewed as merely a cost center that generates no revenue.  They are a necessary evil required for reasons no one knows.  Designated as a money pit that is a blight on the balance sheet they have to fight for every scrap.   

In other companies IT is viewed as a business unit that can help the company achieve overall corporate goals.  In these companies IT is an investment that will reap dividends over time.  It is a subtle difference but I am pretty confident I know how senior leadership at Royal view and fund their IT organization. 

In short the current state is exactly what senior leadership desire it to be.  They don't want it to be great because great costs money to achieve.  They want it to be just good enough to get by even if that causes some pain along the way.  It's their company, that is their right as senior leaders to decide.  Make no mistake, our experience is exactly what senior leadership want it to be.  

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If you're inferring someone should have said months ago "Hey, our systems need to be ready to handle mass cancellations because of a potential global pandemic", you would have been laughed out of the room just about everywhere.

I'm not excusing the fact that refunds have taken far too long and there's a good argument to be made more should have been done sooner to mitigate the delays, but no one's IT infrastructure can anticipate every possible scenario, especially truly unthinkable ones.

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I'd love to ask how health care professionals will be treated at boarding?? Technically I always could be in contact with someone who could have covid, and often have been                ( although taking proper  precautions). And certainly cant refuse to take care fo it's for 14 days before. When they ask at boarding will I be turned away or interrogated for hours?? Lol. 

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Just now, Marlena said:

I'd love to ask how health care professionals will be treated at boarding?? Technically I always could be in contact with someone who could have covid, and often have been                ( although taking proper  precautions). And certainly cant refuse to take care fo it's for 14 days before. When they ask at boarding will I be turned away or interrogated for hours?? Lol. 

I can't imagine how they would even know that anyone is a health care provider.

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Just now, WAAAYTOOO said:

I can't imagine how they would even know that anyone is a health care provider.

The rumor is they ask have you been in contact with someone who was positive. And good chance I will be, or at least with high risk individuals. Dont really want to lie and have it blow up in my face after. Neither do I want to be grilled about it.

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@bytheslice HAAAAAAAAAHAAAA

I guess I would ask why they being shady, they knew they couldn't get around the CDC.....yet they continued to book cruises. I understand business and not wanting to cancel any cruises. But why not follow the status quo and be more transparent? Too many people got their hopes up because of their long hold out.

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