I would like to highlight two of our innovations that are unfolding at the moment, one in our product and one in our communication about our product:
Until now, [a limited number of] bar servers have roamed the tables in the main dining room to offer beverage service. As some guests have pointed out, it’s challenging for this number of bar staff to provide timely service to guests before (or after) their meals arrive. On average our staff level for this undertaking has been one bar server for each 150 guests. We are changing this and by the end of August the waiters on all of our ships will have taken over the responsibility of offering drinks as their guests are seated and thereafter. The ratio will become one server for each 24 guests. We are confident from our testing of this change that our wait staff will greatly improve the flow and timeliness of beverage service during the dining experience. This program further increases guest satisfaction by enabling the waiter to place all cocktail and wine orders on one check.
As with many changes, this initiative requires support and training that takes time and there will be inevitable hiccups. We are implementing a core competency wine and sprits training program and ensuring it is available to all Restaurant crew via the internet. The training encompasses Gold Anchor Standards developed for this initiative. After we overcome the initial learning curve and culture change, we believe this new approach will boost guest satisfaction.
The second change is the latest evolution of our advertising within the “Nation of Why Not” marketing campaign. Traditionally, the effort to produce a 30 second television commercial is a painstaking process from the first strategic brainstorming to the final edits before a high quality ad goes on the air. If we’re fortunate it takes weeks. Often, months. So until now, the idea that we could shoot a commercial onboard a ship one day and air the commercial the next day has been science fiction. Yet that’s exactly what our marketing team together with our advertising agency JWT accomplished multiple times during the week of July 13 – 17 with our “Postcards from the Nation” series of ads.
As hopefully many of you saw one or more times – we aired the commercials in a number of large U.S. markets plus you can view all of the ads on our web site – the format involved a real guest taking on the role of a news anchor. In each case, the guest news anchor announced the daily “news” of various experiences that other guests had during real days onboard Liberty of the Seas. While it’s too early to gauge the success of this approach, one extremely positive indicator is the amount of traffic the ads drove to our web site. Our intention is to do variations on this theme at least two more times during the balance of the year. Congratulations to Betsy O’Rourke, our Senior VP, Marketing, and her team for this remarkably innovative advertising breakthrough that really shows what the Royal Caribbean International experience offers to our guests.