Corporation, the industry and myself, but instead because there has been something else underlining all of the industry’s success that needs recognition and attention: the destinations and stakeholders providing the memorable experiences our guests want most. Believe me, we know what our guests want. We spend quite a bit of time and money to understand our guests and find ways to showcase the experiences that would interest them and then pair them with a fitting ship and trip – but we cannot take all the credit because travel agents play a critical part of that matchmaking process, which we consider a necessary ingredient in creating memories that will last a lifetime, and travel agents have also proven essential in both communicating new products and helping us navigate our guests through new markets. Our guests’ pulse is at the heart of all the advancements listed above – and plenty others, like innovative technologies including the award-winning OceanMedallion, which allows guests to personalize their experiences and maximize their valuable vacation time through reduced friction points. Industry-wide, through analysis after analysis, destinations continue to top the list in driving booking decisions, and in numerous studies cruisers have indicated 12 FIRST QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
“OUR GUESTS’ PULSE IS AT THE HEART OF ALL THE ADVANCEMENTS…” they are excited to sample multiple destinations with the aim of potentially returning for a stay-over visit. Thus, working with destinations and stakeholders toward mutual success—e.g. providing the best possible experiences correlating to higher ratings and satisfaction for cruise lines, along with higher passenger spending and likelihood of return visits and positive word of mouth marketing for destinations—is not only rewarding on a human level, but simply good business for cruise lines. That win-win situation between cruise lines, destinations and stakeholders has been the pillar of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) since its foundation in 1972. I have been a staunch advocate since then, seeing countless examples of the positive impact from fostering partnerships with private and pub-
lic sector representatives throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with them, while also joining them directly with key players from Member Lines during multiple events and meetings – not to mention the association’s numerous other initiatives, such as training, site visits and input on destination products to maximize guest experience; resources like this publication and town hall meetings to provide mutual understanding between stakeholders and cruise lines; and even philanthropy to give back to the destinations and people. So I am honored to again serve as FCCA chairman, optimistic about the great potential in store for destinations and stakeholders to continue growing alongside this booming industry. But to do so, destinations and stakeholders must realize times are changing, and have the willingness and ability to change with the times, trends and guest desires. For instance, in the Caribbean there is a clear need for guides fluent in languages such as German, Italian and Spanish for many of our brands and global passengers. The increasing desire for immersive and experiential excursions and luxurious and exclusive experiences can also be further catered to, and many destinations could enhance the opportunities for—and potential benefits from—guests exploring on their own and providing options for crew, who serve as onboard destination ambassadors and recommend things for guests to see, do and eat. To truly tap the immense opportunity in this globalized and competitive environment, destinations and stakeholders should use a similar philosophy as the industry, which despite all the advancements and new technologies, remains rather easy on the surface: understand what our diverse guests want across every market, and then find the best possible way to deliver, while planning for the short-, mid- and long-term futures. One size certainly no longer fits all, but I know that FCCA takes the same approach in working with its destination partners while also providing one of the best ways to learn what our guests want by finding out directly from us, the Member Lines. I look forward to continuing to support the FCCA’s mission and working with our Member Lines to continue our remarkable success.