Guest Blog: Behind the Scenes and Challenges on Oasis of the Seas

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Lisa Bauer - Senior VP, Hotel Operations

Lisa Bauer - Senior VP, Hotel Operations

We’ve had some requests to share some of our challenges, personally and professionally, as well as a sneak peak behind the scenes. I guess I could start with the personal challenges. I’m in the dog house at home, because right before leaving for Turku, we got a new chocolate lab puppy, Coco Chanel. My husband is at home with the puppy, who apparently is a hand full, and he has to take her to puppy class on Saturday afternoons instead of playing golf. So, personally I’m not too popular. The other personal challenge I am having is I was training to do the half marathon in Miami in January. Due to the rough weather, it hasn’t really been conducive to going to the gym or running, so a little behind there as well. Other than that, life is pretty good. I’m so lucky to work with such amazing people, most of my team is onboard and it doesn’t really feel like work when you are surrounded by such talented and great people. Most days I am just in awe, and very proud, of what they are capable of doing.

On the professional side, I’m not saying we don’t have challenges, because we certainly have some…… Due to the severe weather, we are behind with the installation of bolidt (outdoor floor covering) on our outer decks and pool decks. We are working around the clock to ensure this work is complete prior to our arrival in Port Everglades. We are behind putting the scenery into the theatre because we couldn’t have our crew up on ladders or in high places due to the wave heights and the ship motion. Our crew internet hasn’t worked yet due to server issues, and we had an air flow issue in Chops and the smoke was blowing into the restaurant instead of into the exhaust. We also have some cracks in the jewelry store and the locks don’t work. These are pretty good examples of some of the challenges, all of which we will address.

However, the real reason we don’t have more operational challenges, is because along the process of getting ready to take delivery of Oasis, we had a few years and the ability to test many of our new concepts and venues before bringing them to Oasis. So in other words, there were many challenges, lessons learned, and changes made to several areas, but the changes and challenges were already addressed before coming to life on Oasis. For example, we are introducing a nursery for the first time on our brand. In order to get guest feedback and see how our proposed programming would work, we tested the concept on Splendour of the Seas. We tried out the Seafood Shack menu on Jewel, tested the electronic mustering and no life jacket drills on Majesty, learned how to operate the technology for our show ticketing on Liberty, and also tested all our new digital hand held technology on Liberty, and the candy store, and the new line of designer jewelry we will be carrying in the shops. (We actually call Liberty of the Seas, Test of the Seas). These are just a few examples, but overall we had a guiding principle that we wouldn’t introduce anything new on Oasis that we didn’t have the ability to learn from or test prior. Of course there are some things we couldn’t test in advance, like the zip line or Carousel, but where it was doable, we were able to really see the concepts and test them, make changes based on key learnings, and then implement on Oasis.

We also had a request to define what we mean by stress testing the venues. In some cases, it is just letting the team get practice operating together. In most cases, it is actually measuring what we are doing. At our daily 2pm operational leadership meeting, we review how various stress tests went the day prior. For example, in Park Café, we looked at the operating hours, how many covers we did (guests), the wait time to get the sandwich or lunch selection, operational notes on what we need to address, and any I.T. specific issues. So the first few days we opened Park Café, it was crazy busy. Our VP of F & B, Frank Weber, was behind the counter showing the team how they could move faster and be more efficient. It is basically all hands on deck in each of the areas and real time addressing the operation. For the bars, we look at peak hours for beverages, peak wait time to get a drink, and then discuss how to ensure all these areas meet our agreed upon service standards. We do this for every venue that is open. We are also stress testing the elevators, and that will happen later this week. Most of the stress testing for lines at the outdoor areas will occur when we get in warmer weather.

Finally, there was a request to share some behind the scenes about the training as well. We have several hours of mandatory training for each crew member, and this includes lifeboat training, emergency drills, and even firefighting. Keriann Von Raesfeld. , our Chef de Cuisine at 150 Central Park, told me she was so excited because she had three hours of firefighting class and she thought it was great. A lot of the training is also specific to the division. Our F & B team has a lot of new technology, with hand helds to take drink orders, or new point of sale systems in the dining room to automatically send orders to the galley, so everyone needs to learn the new technology as well. We are also introducing a lot of new wines onboard, so there is training to learn about the new selections. The entertainment team also has a lot of new technology that they need to train everyone on, such as electronic waivers and the show ticketing process. The retail team also has new technology, so clearly this has been a huge focus of training. I mentioned earlier our GOLD service training, and we also do a lot of train the trainer training as well.

I could write a lot more on behind the scenes, but we are officially opening the Coach store tonight, and I don’t want to be late! More on that tomorrow……….

  • kathy

    Very much enjoyed reading the updates on the Oasis. Although our first cruise on the Oasis will not be until Nov. 27th 2010, we love learning about the ship.

    Really like the approach RCI employs of testing new elements/technologies, etc. on other ships in the fleet. We were on the Brilliance in August (12 night Med. cruise) and had our first muster drill without life jackets (loved it). It was mentioned on the Brilliance that a new beach towel program and a late departure (from the Ship) program were being tested on another ship. Both sound like great ideas.

    We will be on the Libery in January and will look for some of the new technology in use.

    All the best and safe journey to the passengers, workers and crew on the Oasis.
    Kathy