Norwegian cruise brand executes radical change

by Brian Major
Last updated: 2:55 p.m. ET, Thu, September 21, 2023

Hurtigruten Group officials this week announced plans to rebrand Hurtigruten Expeditions as HX, emphasizing the division’s global expedition-style itineraries and creating a clear separation from Hurtigruten Norway, the company’s coastal travel provider. 130 year old company.

As part of these changes, Hurtigruten Norway will be simplified to ‘Hurtigruten’ while retaining its ‘fast route’ for Norwegian coastal travel.

Meanwhile, HX will offer “immersive small-ship experiences” emphasizing “scientific research and expert-led lectures,” as well as community advocacy and sustainability, with itineraries to the West Coast of Africa, Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Greenland and Svalbard.

The HX fleet includes the ship Roald Amundsen, powered by a hybrid battery and accommodating 530 passengers, and sister ship MS Fridtjof Nansen. TravelPulse spoke with Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten Group, to discuss the rationale for the new branding.

TP: What was the idea behind the rebrand?

DS: Hurtigruten consists of several companies: we have Hurtigruten Norway, Hurtigruten Expeditions, Hurtigruten Svalbard and we also have a stake in Metropolitan Touring in Ecuador. We send Hurtigruten shipments in a different direction from Hurtigruten Norway.

TP: Why this new strategy?

DS: There is a much more premium offering on Hurtigruten Expeditions, a global offering with very interesting destinations (across) the whole world, (while) Hurtigruten Norway is still at the heart of what it has always been since 1893, and it is a very high price. -late working vessel on the Norwegian coast.

We had the impression that everyone views them the same way. We saw the need to differentiate and make the product proposition and branding much clearer and distinct for both companies. That’s why we’re making the change now.

TP: So the original Hurtigruten product will remain in place?

DS: Yes. Hurtigruten Norway goes back to Hurtigruten’s roots. This name really describes what it is. It means “the fast lane”, and is still the concept of the operation on the coast. With this change we are providing much more clarity as these are two very different product propositions, sailing in different regions and the delivery to guests is very different.

Daniel Skjeldam CEO of Hurtigruten

“We are a brand with Norwegian roots but one that has a very global appeal.” – Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten Group (courtesy of Hurtigruten Group)

TP: What other changes come with the rebrand?

DS: The sales teams working on Hurtigruten Norway and Hurtigruten Expeditions have been separated since June. This is important to understand because it means that the (marketing) structure of the two companies will be completely different. Part of HX’s strategy will be to sell more to travel advisors.

TP: How will it work?

DS: The mix within the group is about 50/50 between business to consumer and business to business, but we hope that with the new initiatives underway at HX we can increase the share of bookings in the business to business sector . business channel by working even more closely with travel advisors, particularly in North America, where we believe we have a lot of potential.

TP: How has the company fared with North American travelers this year?

DS: We have seen very good numbers for HX in the North American market. Compared to last year, the numbers are up 93 percent and if you compare pre-COVID, comparing 2019 departures with 2023 departures, we are up almost 1,000 percent in the market North American. So this is a huge game changer for this company.

TP: What aspects of the product made it popular with North Americans?

DS: We are a brand with Norwegian origins but one that has a very global appeal, with the product specifically designed for the North American market being all-inclusive with very few extras to pay for while you are on board the ship. . Additionally, our massive focus on sustainability is something we are seeing increasing popularity in the North American market.

TP: What aspects of the HX product make you believe you can grow the customer base?

DS: Through HX, we introduced a brand to the North American market that is a cruise product. This is a product that (consumers) may be quite familiar with, but with a Norwegian touch and heritage, a strong focus on sustainability and a focus on science and learning and part of the proposition customer. I think it’s a very good solution for the North American market.

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