Building a stronger future for the global cruise industry

Since beginning her time as President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) earlier this year, Cindy D’Aoust reflects on her first few months in the role and her vision for the future in conversation with Sean Dudley

Building a stronger future for the global cruise industry
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2016 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

With more than two decades of experience in the travel and hospitality industries, Cindy D’Aoust has a wealth of knowledge to fall back on when it comes to the interests of European cruise lines.

D’Aoust was appointed to the role of president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in March 2016, and expressed her pride in being given this prestigious role in the organisation.

“I want to say how proud I am to represent this dynamic and diverse community,” D’Aoust says. “The continued growth of cruising is fuelled by leaders who listen to their customers and continually deliver innovation and the highest levels of satisfaction in the global travel industry. CLIA is just as dynamic as the industry that it is a part of – we are a global organisation focused on helping our members succeed.”

The cruise industry has seen substantial growth in recent times, but with this growth comes greater responsibility for CLIA in order to help ensure travellers enjoy a safe and healthy experience.

According to D’Aoust, CLIA will only be effective if the organisation prioritises using success metrics as defined by its members, and she points to the ‘extremely talented team of leaders’ she works with to help make that possible.

“My job is to provide clarity of purpose, create a global support framework and empower leaders to execute at the local level,” she says. “It is important that we leverage the expertise of our industry. Greater collaboration will drive innovation and enhance the traveller experience.”

CLIA has enjoyed a greater global presence in recent times, having actively expanded into the global market in 2013. As part of this greater universal focus, D’Aoust has met with CLIA members, leaders and industry experts to get their perspective on how best to build for the future.

“The most important learning for me was to recognise that, when we reference ‘One Industry, One Voice’, we recognise this as the culmination of many voices, many stories and varying expertise,” she says. “Together our voice is stronger, our influence is greater and that is the value of bringing the industry together.”

CLIA is actively working with a number of industry partners, and D’Aoust said that an announcement around delivering more education and business-to-business opportunities to the organisation’s global membership will be coming soon.

The organisation has also been active in the movement to gain more funding for transport infrastructure, joining 28 other European transport organisations in a campaign to urge the European Union’s legislator to increase the Connecting Europe Facility budget in the upcoming review of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework.

“This will allow us to enhance the role of transport as an enabler of economic growth and, most importantly, jobs,” D’Aoust says. “Currently, the transport industry provides jobs for 20 million Europeans and accounts for 10% of total EU employment. This also represents the right move towards the Trans-European Network for Transport completion, which in turn will continue our efforts to create additional jobs and economic growth.”

Having had time to acclimatise to her new role, D’Aoust is keen to move CLIA in a positive direction and ensure her vision for the organisation is achieved.

“CLIA’s mission is to be the unified global organisation that helps its members succeed by advocating, educating and promoting for the common interests of the cruise community,” she says. “This is a simple but powerful statement that our leadership team strives to incorporate into everything we do. Our mission is timeless and will continue to guide us as we and the industry, evolve.”

The organisation’s leadership team has created three pillars by which its initiatives will be guided.

“The first, is to enhance the CLIA member value,” D’Aoust explains. “CLIA members are a top priority and it is my ultimate goal to help our members succeed. Secondly, I want to create a ‘glocal’ organisation that fosters the sharing of best practices around the world and enables decisions to be made at a local level. And finally, I will strive to unify our industry. By working together, we deliver greater value to our community, we have more influence and can ensure that cruise travel is the best vacation choice for every traveller around the world. This includes identifying and building key strategic partnerships that benefit all our members.”

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