You have led brands and spearheaded projects to bring things to “the next level.” How do you think your passion for travel and experiences have influenced your ideas and successes?
I think that the basic process behind any successful marketing strategy is pretty simple and made of few ingredients:
- Know your customer of today and your customer of tomorrow
- Know your product and understand the margin of evolution it has
- Know your industry space and your competitors
Once you put all of the above in a clear table it typically shows which are the areas you can evolve the product to differentiate it and basically be able to command a premium for it. I think that understanding the drive that people feel toward traveling is fundamental to understand the customer which is really where everything starts from. I was very fortunate to have a father who brought me around the world by the time I was eight and I definitely inherited the travel bug from him.
Silversea Cruises has built a reputation for exclusivity and exemplary service. What qualities or moments do you think have most led to this recognition?
Silversea has always been the innovator in the sector, just to cite e few innovations:
- In 1994 Silversea launched the Silver Cloud shattering two ceilings in the industry: she was the ship with the highest number of balcony cabins in the industry and she launched this true innovation of the “all inclusive” product. The vision of the Lefebvre family for Silversea has been clear from the beginning and the Silver Cloud’s name is actually coming from the desire of building “the rolls royce of the cruise industry”
- In 2004 we repositioned Silversea for the first time, competitors had come up, trying to compete in the great space Silversea had opened but everyone was playing the tune of “Palm Beach at sea” so we decided to play on the Italian Heritage and we launched the first ever celebrity campaign in cruising with Isabella Rossellini shot by a Vogue Photographer while she was traveling the seven seas in luxury. The product was evolved to bring forward the Italian Heritage, Butlers were added to the mix and Silversea was again sailing alone in front of competitors attracting today 48% of non American guests… the highest percentage than anyone else
- In 2008 Silversea innovated again being the first player to launch a Luxury Expedition product, it was the first company to understand that luxury was changing and capitalized that brilliantly.. today 10 years later everyone is trying to be expedition
So stay tuned for the novelties the future will bring as Silversea has just started innovating and innovating to remain on top of the pack is really the key to any category leader
With such an intimate onboard guest experience you must carefully consider each detail on the ship. What do you think are the “pillars of luxury?” Are there any details brands often overlook in their attempt to achieve this quality?
Answering this question 10 years ago would have been very simple as luxury hospitality was clearly defined in a set of service e standards but today luxury is much more complicated than that and to pull off a luxury experience is simply not enough to have good manuals. I think that the biggest mistake aspiring brands to is to try to shortcut the building of the brand by associating with a world famous chef or organisation. Of course that will bring recognition but if you are not a strong brand yourself it will end cannibalising you and you will be knows as the cruise line with Chef so and so etc. The other mistake I see happening very often is hiring personnel which is very skilled in following up instructions… well that is great but real luxury service is all based on the emotional intelligence of personnel who needs to be able to anticipate your needs much more than just following up instructions.
The Silver Whisper will be the first cruise ship to visit all seven continents - an historical adventure, no doubt. What inspired this itinerary? Can you tell us a bit about how the locations and experiences were curated?
We are very proud of the “Legend of Cruising” World Cruise and the product was born, as most of the time, on a consumer insight: our world cruise guests wanted to go to place they had never been to… so we took a map, put the last world cruises on it and tried to find out a new itinerary.. well there was nothing really new to be achieved … if you are cruising the world around the equator from january to the spring… the places are more of less the same. So we flipped it and started looking at where we had not been… and of course Antarctica immediately came up as an idea. The rest was “easy” we found a way to equip the Whisper with everything she needs to land zodiacs on the great white continent and then we built the product around that experience. It was great and the commercial success unprecedented… we are basically fully booked already!!
How do you think the future of luxury cruising will be affected by technology?
I would say that the future of luxury will only be affected by technology if technology will be disappearing in the background supporting the human interaction between amazing crew and guests.