Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

65 “I can’t assign this success to one particular thing, but diversity is part of the equation that makes our brand a better place to work, and the bridges are functioning at the highest level they ever have. It’s because we’re hiring great people regardless of gender, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation or cultural differences, although at the end of the day, I do absolutely believe that balancing gender is part of that success.” Although post-pandemic recovery is taking longer than Celebrity had originally hoped in 2022 for various reasons, things are looking up for 2023. “People are ready, they have put a lot of this behind them,” says Lutoff-Perlo. “Consumer confidence is getting back to normal. I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll start getting back to our glory days.” Whilst the higher inventory is still selling out and guests are spending more money onboard than pre-pandemic, Lutoff-Perlo says this is now beginning to level off. However, the all-inclusive pricing strategy that was introduced in late 2020 remains very popular. “A much larger percentage of guests are buying it than we anticipated when we came up with the idea – 70 per cent versus 50 per cent.” This year, Celebrity hopes to share announcements about the fifth Edge Series vessel. “This ship presents an incredible opportunity to impact a lot of our sustainability efforts, not only as a brand but as a company [Royal Caribbean Group],” says Lutoff-Perlo. “It will help to progress our thinking on carbon neutral and net zero by 2050. We continue to think about different ways our company, brand and ships take part in preserving the oceans we operate in.” Like the brand’s other ships, the new Edge-class vessel will be positioned as a relaxed luxury resort at sea. According to Celebrity’s recent consumer research, this branding has been very well received and is now at the centre of its marketing strategy. “We wanted to validate our brand positioning by identifying what guests like about and want from Celebrity, and also what consumers in our targeted demographic want from a vacation,” says Lutoff-Perlo. “The three key things they want are to: go somewhere and experience cultures they’ve not visited before; eat great food from all over the world; and take care of themselves and their well-being. “While we didn’t learn anything new, it reinforced that we’re going in the right direction and set us on an even, clear path for the future. After the last couple of years, it was extremely validating to find the brand perfectly positioned as we had wanted it to be. We’ll continue to focus on these desires and to communicate that to the consumer.” Photos: Celebrity Cruises