Forming positive partnerships in the cruise industry

Columbia Cruise Services’ explains how the company helps clients enhance their performance
Forming positive partnerships in the cruise industry
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' has benefitted from Columbia Crusie Services' technical management offering

By Sean Dudley |

This article was first published in Spring/Summer 2018 issue of the International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Tackling challenges, improving processes and forming progressive partnerships has been at the heart of Columbia Cruise Services’ work since its formation three years ago.

“When we established Columbia Cruise Services, on the back of our work as part of Columbia Ship Management, it was so we could give cruise clients our fullest attention,” explains Olaf Groeger, managing director of Columbia Cruise Services. “Cruise ships have different needs to other ships, and you have to approach cruise customers in a different way.”

The scope of services Groeger and his team provides is substantial.

“We offer full management, provide crew management and recruiting, and organise hotel services,” says Groeger. “We do tailormade nautical and technical ship management, create manuals, and are able to deliver services to reflect the specialised needs of each client. We also do operational budget forecasts – on a five-year, three-year and yearly basis – as well as key performance indicator monitoring, quality management and performance optimisation.”

Groeger believes that Columbia Cruise Services’ flexible approach has been a vital factor in its success to date.

“Every client is very different – be they from the expedition field, luxury, or another cruising segment,” he says. “Each sector requires a different approach. But our aim is always to meet the needs of clients, whatever they are. Each client that comes to us is offered the full range of technical operational services, and can choose what they want from our portfolio of services. We’ll also advise and look to offer what we think is best for them.” After starting out providing services for three ships, Columbia Cruise Services’ portfolio has expanded to ten ships in just three years of operations. Groeger’s aim moving forward is to create steady, but not silly, growth.

“The growth we’ve had, which has seen us triple our number of clients in a short time, needs to slow down,” he says. “We need to consolidate, and steady growth is what we want. We’re very happy with the clients we have right now.”

Groeger adds that the company’s main selling point is client satisfaction, and something he believes is achieved with transparency, and by prioritising quality over quantity.

“Transparency is a key term for me,” he says. “You want to be seen as open, honest and as a real partner rather than simply a service provider. If clients see where their money goes and a quality is delivered, trust is established and partnerships develop. That’s what we want to build upon. We do have this with our current clients, but there’s always room for improvement.”

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