I was recently basking in the Caribbean waters when I struck up a conversation with the gentleman swimming near to me. We got to talking about our favorite vacation spots and vendors – and he raved, raved and raved to me all about about his experiences Jet Blue. No exaggeration. He regularly books flight and hotel packages with Jet Blue, and expressed to me his great loyalty to the brand.
And now, with Jet Blue – you can book a flight, a great hotel — and a cruise! — all at once – and you can do it seamlessly. That’s big news!
JetBlue Travel Products (JTP) recently announced the launch of JetBlue Vacations’ Flight + Cruise packages, making JetBlue the first domestic U.S. airline to offer customers the ability to book their flight, cruise and hotel all in one place. The new cruise packages with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line and are now available on www.jetbluevacations.com, offering customers a unique opportunity to save time and money by bundling their travel purchases, with all segments of their journey backed by JetBlue’s signature service. Building on making travel seamless, the new flight + cruise launch marks JTP’s next foray into evolving JetBlue to a broader travel company offering entire trips in addition to flights.
“Continuing to build upon the trust that JetBlue has established over the last 20-plus years, we want customers to book their entire trip, from flights and cruises to hotels and more, all with us,” said Andres Barry, president, JetBlue Travel Products. “Handling the customer service ourselves, rather than sending them to multiple entities, allows us to go above and beyond while meeting JetBlue standards at every single touchpoint. With cruise lines increasingly beginning to sail again, we’re excited to refresh our package offerings, as we continue to drive ancillaries and build our non-ticket revenue base.”
Focusing on ease and convenience, JetBlue Travel Products’ new offerings are designed to create a smoother traveler experience from booking to travel and even upon return. Today, booking a cruise vacation can be a stressful experience: Customers spend a lot of time searching for flights that will get them to their port on time, doing the math and accounting for travel time on their own. There’s also always the risk that their flight will be delayed or cancelled, causing them to miss their cruise departure, without recourse. To solve some of these customer pain points and to get them into vacation mode faster, JTP has partnered with travel technology specialists Traveltek to give customers the ability to search and book cruise packages easily.
As part of JetBlue’s Plane to Port Commitment™, if a customer’s JetBlue flight is delayed or cancelled, the airline will re-book the next available flight and/or make sure they make it to their next port, free of charge. Alternatively, the airline will cover up to 150% of the customer’s original package price for a new JetBlue Vacations package, should their JetBlue flight be delayed or cancelled. The airline’s Plane to Port Commitment is only applicable if a cruise is missed due to a JetBlue flight delay or cancellation. JetBlue is dedicated to offering its customers the best travel assistance possible, should unanticipated travel schedule changes or delays cause them to miss their cruise departure. Take a look.
· Same Cruise, New Port
If a customer misses their cruise departure due to a JetBlue travel delay, the airline will fly them to their next port on the cruise itinerary so they can still enjoy the rest of their vacation.
· Same Cruise, New Dates
If a customer misses their cruise departure due to JetBlue travel delays but prefers not flying to the next port, the airline will re-book their flight + cruise package so they can vacation at another time. (Customer will be responsible for any difference in package price.)
· Same Dates, New Vacation
If a customer misses their cruise departure due to a JetBlue travel delay or cancellation and the airline is unable to get the customer to their next port (or, if they prefer not flying to the next port), JetBlue will cover up to an additional 50% of the customer’s original package price for a new JetBlue Vacations package.
JetBlue offers a “Best Price Guarantee” on all these new JetBlue Vacations flight + hotel and flight + cruise packages, so that customers can spend less time looking for the best price and more time looking forward to their next trip. If a customer finds a better price online for a flight + hotel or flight + cruise vacation package that is identical to a Package offered by JetBlue Vacations before or within 48 hours of the customer’s purchase of that Package from JetBlue Vacations, JetBlue guarantees that they will match that price or refund the customer the difference in price. By booking a flight-and-cruise package through JetBlue Vacations, customers have access to JetBlue’s award-winning onboard experience including mainstays such as a complimentary inflight alcoholic beverage (21+), complimentary snacks, earlier boarding, and free Fly-Fi. Customers will also have the ability to earn TrueBlue points (including Mosaic qualifying points), as well as cruise loyalty points. For more information, visit jetbluevacations.com or call 1-844- JB-VACAY to reach a team of 24/7 vacation planning experts, who can help book every detail of your next cruise trip.
I was granted an exclusive Forbes.com interview with Jet BlueTravel Products president Andres Barry, and this is what he told me.
What made JetBlue Travel Products decide to now offer entire trips instead of just flights?
A few things – one is that we have known for a long time that customers really appreciate the service we provide – this is a natural extension – our customers are going on leisure trips. That’s the first piece we recognized. There exists a big opportunity as to how packaged travel is different and we felt there was a better way we could do it by being more customer-friendly and providing better travel experiences.
Can you give me a range of prices for, say, a JetBlue flight departing from Miami, on Celebrity Cruises for 10 days?
For example, for a cruise – from New York – a 10-day trip on a pp basis, a little over a thousand dollars a person – that’s for the flight and the cruise. Bought separately, it’s a couple hundred dollars more. We are giving unique deals on the flight. The other advantage – if you wish to change your plans – you just make one phone call.
Tell me more about the Plane to Port Commitment.
This is where we want to bring JetBlue’s flavor to the space. We make sure the trip goes according to plan and makes it easy for customers to come in the night before or that morning. Things don’t always go according to plan. There’s a lot of anxiety about “What if we miss my cruise?” We will find a way to make something out of your control more preventable. If you’re running late, we will fly you to the next port – we can get you there relatively easy. Or we will re-book you on a different day. Third, it may not be convenient to fly to the second port – we will put you up in a hotel to make sure you still get a vacation on the beach. We want a customers’ peace of mind – and we will fund the hotel – we will apply the cost of the cruise plus and extra 50% towards booking you in a hotel if you paid $300 a night for the cruise, Jet Blue will pay up to $450 a night at a hotel – so you get your vacation. This is pretty unique – if you simply want to get from New York to somewhere warm. We will take care of all of the pieces – customers value this. If you need to make modifications one phone call to us will take care of it all.
These new flight-and-cruise packages – what problems do they obviate and solve for travelers?
Scheduling all the different components – flights for a cruise – often times you also want a hotel, ground transfers – now the general planning is made as easy as possible. Other perks – loyalty tie-in to receive True Blue Points. One phone call services customers – we can modify everything in one phone call.
Tell me about the Best Price Guarantee.
We want to make the process better – make the hotel and cruise package and air — you get a free drink in flight, perks at hotels, we bring a better product with more value for the money. We believe we can offer customers a great experience. We don’t want you to worry about getting the best deal – we take this seriously – we are a better deal than buying it separately. If your trip is cheaper, we will refund the difference. If you can find something similar, same dates and hotels, and it’s cheaper somewhere else, we will refund the difference. We want to give our customers the confidence to book with us. We are usually the best price already.
What makes JetBlue special, unique and different? Why do travelers love it so much?
I think it’s a series of things – we’ve invested a lot in on the ground and onboard customer service – the most legroom in our coach product – live TVs, free WiFi, full snacks, we don’t skimp on drinks —we continue to invest to support our customers and we continue to innovate and stay ahead of the industry. That’s what our customers tend to love. That feeling of trust – and you can relax on your trip and trust us with your vacation plans.
JetBlue can also book your car rental? Tell me about that.
At JetBlue Travel Products, we wanted to disrupt the package market – we have an on-the-ground concierge, we added cruises to the vacation product and we’re seeing tremendous traction for our packages. We recognize that package travel is not for everyone – we bring the JetBlue level of service to customers who want to build their trips differently – we wanted to do it differently and take ownership of the experience. If you already booked the flight, but you want to add a car or hotel later, that’s where we built Paisly by JetBlue, where everything is just one click away and build your trip a la carte over time. We’re really proud of what we’ve done. We’re excited about all the perks and the flexibility. Taking a more customer-centric view. We are seeing it in the customer traction we are getting, especially when there is so much uncertainty about travel.
To me, as a reporter, it all sounds well and very very good – and I’m sure my new friend in the Caribbean waters would be impressed!