Amid the travel industry’s struggle as it’s impacted by the spread of COVID-19, Norwegian Cruise Line managers instructed employees to use talking points that mislead customers about the potential risks of coronavirus in order to secure bookings, according to a report by the Miami New Times.
The novel coronavirus is impacting business around the world, but it’s the travel industry that’s expected to be hit hardest financially.
A sales employee at Norwegian Cruise Line leaked emails to the Miami New Times reportedly showing one of the company’s senior sales managers encouraged sales employees to reply to customers’ apprehension about COVID-19 with pre-prepared responses that contained misinformation.
The canned script was supposed to be used if customers voiced concerns about coronavirus, according to the report. The script started off by urging customers to book as soon as possible with Norwegian Cruise Line because they claimed demand was surging and prices could skyrocket – across the cruise industry, the opposite is being observed.
The US State Department has actually instructed people with underlying health conditions to avoid cruise ships. And companies continue to experiencing low booking as stocks plunge, the Miami New Times reports.
Conversations in company meetings down-played the seriousness of coronavirus, one employee told the Miami New Times, and many of the responses written for customers contained misleading and unconfirmed information.
“The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise,” one of the talking points read.
“Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus,” the next said.
Another added, “the Coronavirus cannot live in the amazingly warm and tropical temperatures that your cruise will be sailing to.”
But, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu persists year-round in the US even though fall and winter are the worst months, said the report. And the same is the case for the common cold – and could be true for the coronavirus.
While flu season usually ends in spring in the US because of elevated temperatures and humidity, scientists and medical experts do not know enough about the novel coronavirus to be sure what will unfold with warmer temperatures.
But the company is pushing to boost bookings and will fire or put on performance plans those who don’t meet sales quotas, according to the employee who spoke with the Miami New Times.
The Norwegian Cruise Line did not respond to Business Insider for comment.
The White House is discussing ways to help cruise and airline industries struggling amid the outbreak, but it remains yet to be seen if they will receive tax relief.
Read the full report over at the Miami New Times.
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