As the senior vice president for global sales and marketing, Lisa Bauer keeps busy overseeing the line’s hotel services, food and beverage, onboard revenue and entertainment areas. She managed to find some time, however, to chat with e-Travel Blackboard during a recent visit to Fort Lauderdale.
e-Travel Blackboard: I wanted to start off by congratulating you on your new role.
Lisa: Thank you very much, yes it’s exciting!
e-Travel Blackboard: It’s great to see that the company has so many fantastic women in high powered roles and I think that is fabulous!
Lisa: Very good!
e-Travel Blackboard: You’ve been with Royal Caribbean International since 2002, what drew you to work in the cruise industry initially?
Lisa: Well actually, my mother was a travel agent, so I grew up in the travel industry and I was very interested in sales from college. The two just kind of came together!
e-Travel Blackboard: It’s great to see when your parents influence you in a positive way, which they obviously have.
Lisa: Yep I came by the travel bug early!
e-Travel Blackboard: What do you like most about your new position?
Lisa: The people I work with. You know, all the managing directors around the world…the whole global team is great.
So I think that that is probably the best part, a really talented group of people.
e-Travel Blackboard: Who do you admire and see as a role model in the cruise industry in particular?
Lisa: Honestly, mine is Richard Fain.
He just makes us all better. He pushes us, and he loves the ‘big idea’ and that’s where so much of the innovation comes from.
He always challenges us to think through, “how can we be better”, “how can we think through something no one else has ever done”.
I’ve learned so much from him that I try to think that way now. He definitely inspires me.
e-Travel Blackboard: Is there anything you’d like to see improved in the cruise industry?
Lisa: I think just the opportunity for all of the various cruise associations.
It would be nice to get a global voice for cruising. I think that they all do a great job, but that would be the one thing, if we could all figure out how to come together and make a global cruise industry, versus all the regional associations.
e-Travel Blackboard: Do you think that the different markets and the different needs and wants of the different markets would allow that?
Lisa: Well, you know I think that there are definitely opportunities for different challenges with the niche market and so there would have to be that degree of customisation.
But at the end of the day, all of cruising is certainly dealing with things like safety and fuel conservation, so I think those global topics could bring everyone together. Then there could be committees and things like that to deal with more local issues.
e-Travel Blackboard: What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Lisa: On the top of my bucket list is South Africa, because I have not been there, and that’s one place I’d really like to go. That’s number one on my list.
e-Travel Blackboard: What’s the most memorable travel experience that you’ve had?
Lisa: Wow, that’s a tough one. There’s so many.
I love Lake Como, Italy. Riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco was kind of one of those amazing days.
Oh, and when I was visiting Australia, I actually climbed the Bridge! I’m afraid of heights, but I did it and it was one of those, you know, bucket list things. I can’t believe I did it, actually!
e-Travel Blackboard: Good on you! What are the three things that you always have to take with you when you cruise in particular?
Lisa: For sure my workout clothes and my tennis shoes!
e-Travel Blackboard: Oh you’re so good!
Lisa: Yeah, that’s the first thing that gets packed.
e-Travel Blackboard: Do you actually use the gym, or do you use the whole deck experience, the jogging tracks, and that sort of thing?
Lisa: Both. If it’s not windy, I love to go run out on deck, but you know, we have such amazing gyms, so that’s the first thing I pack.
And of course, my business attire, right? And…I guess my Blackberry!
Yes, it’s sad!
e-Travel Blackboard: If you could name someone famous you’d like to cruise with, who would it be and which ship would you like to take them on?
Lisa: Oh wow…I forgot the famous part and was just thinking “who would I like to cruise with” and I was going to say my dogs; Coco Chanel and Vegas!
e-Travel Blackboard: Which ship do you think Coco would love the most?
Lisa: I think she would love Allure of the Seas.
e-Travel Blackboard: Why would that be?
Lisa: Because there’s nothing like it and she was such a pioneer for what she did for her time. It’s a great brand and she had a great brand.
e-Travel Blackboard: What has the feedback been like from agents and consumers with the ‘Royal Advantage’ program? Making such major refurbishments to your current vessels rather than launching new ones is a really interesting concept, how have people reacted to the massive revamps that have occurred?
Lisa: Well the guests’ reaction has really been unbelievable because the ships right now and the ratings from all our customers are quite high.
They’re amazed that we took something that was already so great and made it even better.
We’ve done this thing and now every ship is our best ship and that’s really caught on!
You go on Rhapsody of the Seas and it’s like a brand new ship! The people that loved the ship before because they loved the crew and they love that type of ship and they love where it goes now have a ship that’s got an incredible entertainment experience etc…
So the fact is that the guests have already loved it and then it’s like “wow”.
Our ratings are up double digits, which is unbelievable, because they were already so high.
This was a big deal; it was a lot of money. But it was really to make sure that our guests had a consistent brand experience. The ability to have these key brand elements, no matter what ship you get on in the world, is very important to us and it is resonating amazingly with the guests.
e-Travel Blackboard: I personally think it’s fantastic that a lot of the ships chosen for the ‘Royal Advantage’ program early on were the ships that deploy to Australia in our summer!
Lisa: Oh, we love Australia, it’s just such a great market. We think it’s great because the local market loves us and also people from all over the world want to come to Australia, so it’s a great way to do both.