How far would I go to sell a cruise? How about Miami to Hong Kong to Shanghai to Singapore to Brisbane to Melbourne to Sydney before returning home?
A trip such as this is actually about much more than selling cruises. It’s an opportunity for me to support and leverage the efforts of my far-flung colleagues to build our brand and help fulfill our strategic aspirations. My one or two days in each location is a blend of media interviews, discussions with top travel agents, port visits, updates from governmental authorities and of course interactions with my team. A lot of the attention is on selling and operating Legend of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas because of their programs in Asia and Australia, respectively. And, of course, on Oasis of the Seas, because there is excitement everywhere in the world about her approaching delivery.
I wrote about my Hong Kong stop in a previous entry. In Shanghai, we celebrated our move to new offices in a building owned by Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), the same group that built and operates the new cruise terminal on the Bund in central Shanghai. Although I have been in Shanghai a number of times in recent years, this was my first visit since we hired Dr. Zinan Liu as our Managing Director for China. He has a young and enthusiastic team that is eager to take on the challenge of building distribution and sales in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and elsewhere in China. The government seems keen to develop what it calls the “cruise economy.”
In Singapore, we celebrated the conclusion of a successful two year stint by our Associate VP of International, Rama Rebbapragada, who will return to Miami from where he will oversee our continued development in countries where we sell and market through International Representatives – about 40 markets. Michael Bayley and I were joined by colleagues from throughout the Asia Pacific region for a wonderful evening in Rama’s honor. We also announced that Jennifer Yap would succeed Rama as Managing Director in Singapore. Then it was time for me to move on to Australia and let Michael and his senior team focus on 2010 as well as long-term planning.
My Australia visit was my first in about seven years. Our Managing Director of Australia, Gavin Smith, and his team, like their counterparts in China, are highly focused on building our competitive position in this market. Australia has a great tradition of receiving visits from ocean liners. The modern cruise industry is gaining momentum quickly now. In order for the country to realize its potential there will have to be additional infrastructure development especially in Sydney.
A trip like this one is enjoyable but exhausting. All of the 21st century communications technologies cannot substitute for me presenting myself to the wonderful people on the other side of the world and reinforcing the importance of their markets to our present and future.