Cruise Trade News today named seven members of the cruise industry as Rising Stars. The winners, all aged 35 and under, were judged by a panel of industry leaders and were presented with their awards at a lunchtime ceremony at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.
Rebekka Gale, 27, Cruise consultant, Cruise118
Rebekka treats every booking as if it’s for a family member, even hand-writing and posting Christmas cards to repeat customers. She puts gifts into their cabins, such as chocolate-dipped strawberries or a bottle of champagne, to recognise special occasions or to say thank you for booking with her again.
These gestures are self-funded as she believes such actions greatly help her customer retention figures.
She always goes the extra mile by offering to complete customers’ online check-in, pre-book their flight seats and arrange their ESTAs as standard.
Recently, through messaging a repeat customer via her Facebook page, Rebekka found out which airport hotel the client was staying in, casually got around to asking what drinks they liked, and then called the hotel and put some money behind the bar.
The customer ‘was over the moon’ and Rebekka says this was her ‘proudest moment’.
Rebekka is always looking for new ideas and techniques that she can adapt to improve the service she offers her customers. She designed a Facebook page and manages the content – engaging with customers and sharing cruise deals on a daily basis.
She has created a templated email that she sends to customers when they have booked with her. It’s a ‘to do’ checklist with lots of helpful information regarding their booking. She receives a lot of positive feedback from this and it also reduces the number of administration queries, as she has given customers comprehensive details about their cruise.
Rebekka has worked for Cruise118 since 2012 and as a member of the Cruise Concierge team, she leads the pack with her revenue generated and high level of customer retention. This year she delivered £1.19 million worth of sales, generating £90,281 nett commission and received a ‘Millionaire’ award trophy and certificate.
Rebekka works from home and constantly self-teaches to improve her knowledge and keep up to date with travel industry news so that when she speaks to customers she can provide ‘accurate information along with an efficient service’.
CRUISE AGENT MANAGEMENT RISING STAR
Ami Fargher, 33 Assistant franchise manager GoCruise
Ami is a gem of an individual. She’s supportive of her franchise manager, the franchisees and other parts of our business – on occasion she’s the ‘999’ of our business.
She deserves recognition and success in her career and she is ready for another step up. Never resting on her laurels, she is forward-thinking, upbeat and positive and respected by her peers and senior management.
Ami is unassuming, takes most things in her stride, is calm under pressure, is firm with franchisees when she needs to be and can talk to individuals of all levels.
GoCruise has two conferences a year and, based on Ami’s input, our January 2017 format has changed – she has had ideas that will make the day flow better.
Ami started her career working in the travel agency inside a local Co-op. As her career took off she spent time working as a tour operator dealing with the trade, seeing the industry from a different side. She became an overseas resort representative and then a wedding co-ordinator in Florida. The skills Ami has acquired from her various travel roles have stood her in great stead to work at GoCruise, dealing with 61 different franchisees on a daily basis.
Ami is unique, talented, knowledgeable and a hard-working individual with a ‘can do’ attitude. She is also creative when it comes to the co-funding of marketing activity with our cruise line partners, ensuring that they get value for their money.
Bridget Coe, franchise manager, GoCruise
CRUISE AGENT MARKETING RISING STARS
Alex Loizou, 34, Director of sales and marketing, Mundy Cruising and Mundy Adventures
Alex is delightful and fun company – he’s a quiet chap but a fizzball of energy.
He seizes every opportunity to travel the world, often combining his trips with personal goals such as running the New York marathon, trekking to Everest Base Camp and climbing Kilimanjaro. Luckily, his wife Lynsey is similarly obsessed.
He is clear-thinking, a great listener, calm and responsive with a measured approach. This is particularly important when facing the specific challenges of working at an owner-managed company. Persuading the owners they may not be right is never going to be straightforward!
Alex is great at managing upwards, articulating his thoughts in a calm manner. He is not afraid to challenge the status quo and welcomes change when appropriate.
When managing downwards, he is able to express his vision equally clearly to map the path that will take his team where he wants them to go.
It is perhaps very typical of his organised and methodical attitude that he seems to have carefully managed his career progression to include every aspect of the business.
Before he joined Mundy Cruising in February 2013 he had experienced grassroots work as a reservations agent, operations, product management, online and offline marketing, staff management and business analysis at companies such as Balkan Holidays, Travel 2 and Travelbag, greenbee (the services arm of the John Lewis Partnership) and The Private Travel Company.
Mundy Cruising is his first incursion from tour operating into cruise, and he has gathered all the strands of his past work experience to become an outstanding and visionary leader – a true Rising Star.
He was promoted to director of sales and marketing this year, a direct result of his significant contribution to our business.
Alex’s effectiveness was judged against a number of criteria. We looked not only for steady growth in turnover and more importantly, profitability (22% from 2013 to 2015), but also for an increase in new to Mundy clients (18% YOY) and bookers (23% YOY), growth in website visits (our unique visits are up 101% YOY), improvement to business processes to increase staff productivity, Feefo ratings of staff (99%), and a happy and motivated team. On all of these KPIs, Alex scored highly.
Edwina Lonsdale, managing director, Mundy Cruising
PORTS RISING STAR
Rebekah Keeler, 26 Commercial manager ABP Southampton
Rebekah has a ‘can do’ attitude and an approachable nature, plus an attention to detail and ability to go beyond the norm, all of which ensure that Southampton Port’s cruise customers’ expectations are met.
She has been at the port 16 months and has been instrumental in attracting new cruise business, playing a pivotal role in securing a seven-year deal with Royal Caribbean to continue with Southampton as its home port, which is worth £200 million to the local economy.
She has overseen a continuing rise in cruise calls and her dynamism is welcomed by cruise industry leaders. Rebekah has also been an integral part of the team that secured both Seatrade port of the year and Cruise Critic best UK departure port for 2016.She has played a signifi cant role in our ability to manage future cruise bookings by means of historical data, which allows the port to react swiftly to enquiries from cruise lines.
She has played a significant role in our ability to manage future cruise bookings by means of historical data, which allows the port to react swiftly to enquiries from cruise lines.
Rebekah has also helped capture very late cruise bookings – due to weather or another reason that requires an alternative destination port for a customer. Our ability to accept these bookings (often with fewer than 24 hours’ notice) makes Southampton the first point of approach when vessels are in the locality and require an alternative destination.
Captain Ian Diaper, senior marine officer, ABP Southampton
CRUISE LINE MANAGEMENT RISING STARS
Overall winner ★
Paul Tavener, 30 Sales performance manager, Viking River Cruises UK
People development is one of Paul’s strengths: he has successfully mentored two team members through the ranks from sales team leaders, developing their skills with constant observation, feedback and coaching.
He can regularly be found walking the floor, driving the team, ensuring individual staff members are given the support they need to deliver to their full potential. He creates daily and hourly challenges for the team to work towards and encourages staff to come forward with their ideas for the call centre.
Paul is a natural seller and frequently demonstrates his sales ability by taking and converting sales calls when needed. He has also been a useful addition to the management team. He is a supportive colleague and he is also a great source of new ideas and encouragement.
Paul aims to be dynamic in everything he does as a leader. From day one in the role, he set out his vision to the team for the Viking Call Centre. He likes to keep a positive attitude, especially in more challenging times.
He says: “As leaders we must show a positive and energetic attitude to our team. If a percentage of it rubs off on the team, then it will only have a positive impact.”
He created a new team dedicated to looking after our online customer interaction. He also introduced new quote templates, speeding up response times and increasing the overall customer experience when sending an email enquiry.
Paul believes in keeping things fresh and using your imagination to create and try new ideas. Recently he ran an incentive where each of the sales team were assigned a country to represent during the Euro 2016 football championships. Paul asked members from each department to sponsor a country/agent. Their job was to motivate, coach and encourage their agent to win. This was effective and it resulted in greater interaction between departments as everyone got involved in the month’s sales figures.
He adds: “I have found that my open, honest and committed style has helped bring people with me. I have a fresh and focused team that works together to achieve business objectives and exceed targets.”
Neil Barclay, head of sales, Viking River Cruises UK
CRUISE LINE MARKETING RISING STAR
Lauren Burrill, 32 Brand manager, Royal Caribbean
Lauren began her career within the luxury drinks industry where she helped to create bespoke brand experiences at Moet Hennessey.
In 2013 she brought her skill set to the world of cruise when she joined Royal Caribbean as brand manager.
She’s a truly passionate and dedicated marketer, who, in the few years she’s been at Royal Caribbean, has accomplished a considerable amount, including ensuring the successful launch of numerous ships internationally as well as implementing the rebrand of Royal Caribbean across the UK and Ireland. She was instrumental in ensuring a smooth implementation company-wide. She also worked on UK launch events for Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world.
Her role was to coordinate all components of the launch – from invites and collateral to the management of the launch event and supporting marketing initiatives.
Our ship launches were some of the most successful ship launches in the industry based on the following metrics: strong increase in website visits, the volume and quality of PR coverage, and social engagement. During the launches, our brand metrics increased and held position over the following months.
Mario Bounas, head of brand, Royal Caribbean
CRUISE LINE SALES RISING STAR
Katie Brickell, 30, Assistant business development manager, Holland America Line and Seabourn
Katie is a true ‘all-round’ salesperson: passionate about her brands, creative, full of excellent ideas and always coming up with effective promotions and sales messages.
Katie started in travel in 2005 as a cruise consultant for P&O Cruises. In 2007 she was seconded to the Carnival UK Training Academy and in 2008 she moved into the Complete Cruise Solution sales team as an account coordinator and later became an account manager.
After a brief period in newspaper advertising sales for Mail Newspapers, she moved back to Southampton in 2012 as Holland America Line’s business development representative and assistant business development manager.
One of Katie’s major responsibilities is the management of the Thomas Cook account. She has recently brought new business worth more than £30k from a non-affiliated group and has also had success with major accounts and tour operators. She has also contributed to increased sales for small businesses such as CCI, Cruise Connections, Cosmos, Warren Bullock and Mercury Holidays, all of which are new business for our brands.
Lynn Narraway, managing director UK and Ireland, Holland America Line and Seabourn