January 23, 2022

Cruise ship call center plans to hire 220

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royal-caribbean-cruises-logoBy Ilene Aleshire From The Register-Guard

Royal Caribbean International says most jobs will be full time

SPRINGFIELD — Royal Caribbean International is again hiring, with an eye to having people trained and in place at the company’s Springfield call center before its peak January-March season, said Rita Stolze, Royal Carib­bean’s director of trade support and service.

“We are currently at a total of 719 employees in Springfield,” Stolze said, “And we’re planning on adding another 220, mostly full time — we don’t have many part-time employees.”

Royal Caribbean is at about 65 to 70 percent of capacity at the 165,000-square-foot call center, which it opened in 2006.

When the latest round of hiring is completed, Stolze said, “We are probably going to be nearing 80 percent (capacity) — we’re very excited about that. It’s taken some time to get there, with the difficult economic factors over the course of the last few years.”

The cruise company is repeating what turned out to be a successful experiment last year, she said, staffing up for the period when bookings for cruises crest, with the hope that many of the new employees will stay on permanently. Stolze said she did not have precise figures, but a majority of these new hires stayed on last year.

The company is now hiring for a variety of positions, including working directly with customers who call to book a vacation or with travel agents, Stolze said.

Royal Caribbean prefers not to hire from the outside for executive or supervisory positions, she said. “We prefer people learn the product from the ground up, learn the system.”

Within the last 60 days, she said, Royal Carribbean “hired” roughly 15 new supervisors at the Springfield facility by promoting from within.

It has gotten a bit tougher to hire good employees since the economy improved and competition for workers heated up, Stozle said.

But Royal Caribbean touts its modern facility, which includes a fitness center and cafeteria; base pay that starts at $8.85 to $10.50 an hour, not including incentive pay; health care insurance; a retirement plan; the chance to advance rapidly, and cruising privileges — a benefit few other call centers offer, Stolze said.

Royal Caribbean hopes to get the new hires on board by October, to give them experience before calls starting flooding in early next year, Stolze said, “So the customers don’t feel like these are brand-new employees.”

When Royal Caribbean, the world’s second largest cruise line, built the call center, the national economy was going strong and the cruise business was booming. To attract the company to Springfield, the state provided $1.3 million in incentives, including a $600,000 loan from the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund, which the state would forgive if the company met certain employment requirements.

At the center’s opening, company officials projected that the site would have 1,000 employees by 2009.

The Great Recession and a downturn in travel intervened, however, and the center did not meet those projections.

For the state to forgive the loan, the company was required to keep 600 full-time equivalent jobs for six consecutive months between July 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2009. The state granted two one-year extensions, allowing the company until Dec. 31, 2012, to meet the requirement.

Royal Caribbean fell short of the 600 FTE mark, maintaining 536 FTEs, so to close out the loan agreement, the company paid back $63,970 of the $600,000 loan in May 2013.

Now that the recession is in the rearview mirror for many people, “the cruise industry is definitely picking up,” Stolze said. “Our business overall has been very, very strong. We see that continuing to grow, particularly in the next few years. We have been very excited about being able to make the most use of the facility in Springfield.”

For more on this story go to: http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32116665-75/royal-caribbean-is-hiring-220-people.html.csp

IMAGE: www.examiner.com

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