Azamara’s senior VP may have just landed in Australia after two long-haul flights, but Edie Bornstein was bright-eyed and keen to chat about cruising, Rod Stewart and following your passion, during her visit to Sydney earlier this year.
e-Travel Blackboard: You’ve got such a varied background in the cruise industry, what is it that drew you to cruise in particular?
e-Travel Blackboard: Is it difficult working with Azamara after working for so many other cruise lines that may be considered “competitors”? You’d have such a place in your heart for them…
From there, I migrated and I worked for what became Amadeus. In that role, all the cruise lines were my customers and I provided technology solutions for them, many times when they were trying to achieve the same result, but there were a myriad of differences in how they got the result.
I often say you’re sort of like the parent of ten kids, you love them all, you love them differently, you know their inner secrets, but you have to keep their secrets.
That relationship with each of them is what caused many CEOs to say, “Edie, come and work for us”. I would say “no, I don’t want to leave one or the other”, until one day Larry Pimantel, who is my boss now, called me and said, “Edie now I’m going to get you to come and work for me because tomorrow we’re announcing the signing of the (then) USD$800 million world’s largest ocean liner Queen Mary 2 and I want you to come and be my VP here”. And that is what happened.
So, when I went to Cunard, I still stayed friends with the CEOs at the other lines. It’s a friendly, competitive sort of industry and luxury was always my preference, so, as Carnival Corporation evolved and changed, when Larry called me again to come join him at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., I was delighted because I loved working with him and I loved all of these brands.
The really great thing about the cruise industry is that that every brand has the same mantra of safety first and everybody provides a great vacation experience.
Getting back into the luxury sector was really near and dear to my heart.
e-Travel Blackboard: What is it that you like most about your current job?
Well, first and foremost, I LOVE the brand experience. I do my personal vacations on Azamara Club Cruises. I’m that passionate about what I’m doing that I choose to go on vacation on my own brand.
Most recently, I just came off a Hong Kong to Singapore voyage and it was spectacular, or “Az-amazing”, as I like to say!
What I love about my current job is how we are in a perpetual state of evolution to continue to grow and evolve the brand. The people that I work with are amazing!
I love having the globe as my responsibilities. I just came from the U.K. a couple of weeks ago and am in Australia now, I’ve gone to Germany and Denmark and all these other countries…
Each country approaches selling cruises and ultimately Azamara Cruises, in a different way, so it’s a tremendous global learning experience that I am just passionate about as well.
I just love everything about my job! I really do, I love it!
e-Travel Blackboard: What is it that you want to see improved in the industry?
What’s interesting about Azamara Club Cruises is that, because of our key brand differentiator “destination immersion”, meaning long stays and more overnight touring, just under 22 per cent of our guests have never cruised before. They’re seasoned travellers but yet they were never open to cruising because they had that traditional mindset of they didn’t want to leave a place at 5pm.
So they’re drawn to us for that key brand differentiator. What I would like to see is more travellers around the world come to cruising as their option.
e-Travel Blackboard: Are there are any plans to bring Azamara ships down to Australia?
e-Travel Blackboard: Who do you consider to be your main competitor?
e-Travel Blackboard: What do you think sets you apart? Why should someone select Azamara above those “conceived competitors”?
In fact, in 2013, 100 per cent of our itineraries have late night or overnight stays. If the guest or client wants to experience cruising, but not leave every port at 5 o’clock, they should try us.
When they have a look and they really look at the micro detail of an itinerary, it sells itself.
The other component is the value proposition. We are 15 per cent, on average, lower than any other “cruise competitor” and then when you add that we’re mostly all-inclusive, it becomes a tremendous value proposition.
e-Travel Blackboard: Do you think that Azamara will become all-inclusive?
e-Travel Blackboard: Who do you admire as a role model within the cruise industry in particular?
These are two men who have been in this industry for many decades and I think they’ve made incredible contributions to the industry. I think of Richard Fain’s passion for safety at sea and the environment and I think of Larry’s passion for luxury and evolving the cruise industry and the luxury sector.
e-Travel Blackboard: You travel extensively but do you have any destinations still on your bucket list?
e-Travel Blackboard: Very exotic! What would be the most memorable cruising experience that you’ve had?
I would think my favourite would probably be last summer. We went on a 12-night voyage along Italy and the Mediterranean where just about every night was a late night or an overnight.
Going to places like Capri and Sorrento and staying late and not having to unpack, I think it was my most memorable because I love Italy and I hate packing, so it was the perfect combination!
e-Travel Blackboard: Speaking of packing, what are three things that you must always take with you when you cruise?
My Blackberry. I don’t leave home without it! Because our ships are totally WiFi, I can stay in touch.
With my job, I don’t know how to disconnect even though my boss yells at me and tells me I should try to!
Comfortable shoes to walk in. I’m a stilettos kind of girl but when I’m on holiday, I want to be in thongs and sandals.
And the third thing….it should be my gym clothes.
e-Travel Blackboard: That should not be in your top three!
He’s such a bad boy! Australia has gorgeous people!
Rod Stewart called me on stage during my girl’s getaway in Las Vegas to celebrate my 50th birthday last year! I was in the first row and he was singing to me because the venue was very small, and when he finished the song he said, “would the beautiful birthday girl in the red satin dress please join me on stage?”
Other than the birth of my now 22-year-old son, it was the second most drop dead memorable day of my life!
I’ve loved him since I was 12 years old and I’ve seen him all over the world…200 times!
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: Natalie Aroyan