Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

COVER STORY Every cloud has a silver lining Never let a good crisis go to waste has been the mantra at Celebrity Cruises during the pandemic. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo tells Susan Parker how the brand is coming back stronger The pandemic has sapped the energy of everyone. The recent arrival of the Omicron variant has not done the cruise industry any favours but it is clear that Celebrity Cruises’ president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and her team have been using this unusual time to add quality and value to the luxury cruise line’s offering. “We’ve always been in the heat of the moment and moving at 100 miles an hour, so when we had an opportunity to pause, we employed [former British Prime Minister] Winston Churchill’s comment ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ in a positive way,” she says. “In my 37 years in this business we’ve never had time out like we did for Covid, so we decided to make the best of it. “When Covid hit, we thought about the brand and decided we wanted a strong comeback. We wanted to use the pause in a proactive and productive way and shift our strategy ever so slightly to help the brand forward.” One of the results was the Always Included offering, which is part of Celebrity’s new luxury positioning. It is about moving the brand into a space between premium and luxury. Research showed that guests would be prepared to pay for gratuities, drinks and wi-fi within the fare rather than as extras. Hence, it was decided that Always Included pricing would be offered with every cruise, creating simplicity so consumers better understand what they are booking, thereby making Celebrity more desirable for people looking for a more luxurious experience. By all accounts it is working. “The team thought we would have 50 per cent of guests wanting Always Included pricing – and that was an optimistic prediction – but 85 per cent are going for it, even when we’re offering a cruise-only fare,” says Lutoff-Perlo. “I think we struck a chord that is meaningful to the consumer. We’ve attracted higher-end customers and moved into a new luxury space. Our new strategy and how we are positioning ourselves – Celebrity has introduced Always Included to enable guests to pay for onboard drinks, wi-fi and tips as part of the overall cost of their cruise to make the experience more convenient Photo: Celebrity Cruises 5 0