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Princess Cruises' Deanna Austin melds data, experience and instinct

'The nature of the business is that you have to make decisions into the future, based on data and history. From there, I rely on my experience and instinct,' Deanna Austin said
One of the most powerful leaders in cruising, Deanna Austin has played a critical role in the development of the global industry, according to her boss, Jan Swartz, group president, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia.

With her promotion to chief commercial officer on her 30th anniversary with Princess last December, Austin—already responsible for global deployment and revenue management—added the commercial operations in 12 international offices, as well as international sales through general sales agents around the world.

Award-winning itineraries and compelling promotions

Swartz called Austin's more than 30 years of contributions 'immeasurable,' adding: 'Her passion, expertise and leadership have created award-winning itineraries and compelling promotions for our guests—growing our business from less than 100,000 to 2 million guests today.

'She has pioneered new markets around the world,' Swartz continued, 'from Australia to Japan to Taiwan and China, by listening closely to our team, travel agents and our guests to determine our commercial policies and go-to-market strategies.'

A collaborative colleague

For Josh Leibowitz, chief strategy officer for Carnival Corp. & plc and SVP North America for Cunard, Austin is 'one of the most brilliant leaders in the cruise industry and my go-to person for insights on deployment, pricing or commercial strategy. Her perspective is based on a combination of experience and facts and she is a collaborative colleague who may "bleed" Princess but is always ready to help any of our nine global brands.'

According to Austin, having the right people in the right positions is what makes everything tick.

Overseeing the deployment for 18 ships, she leads a team that creates more than 150 itineraries. Austin has launched new routes and deployments for Princess such as its first Antarctica journey and Asia mega-ship. She played an integral role in creating the commercial strategy that developed new homeports and expanded guest sourcing in Japan, China and Taiwan, plus numerous other ports throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Mitigating the risk of unforeseen events

There's always risk in crafting itineraries two to three years ahead. Unforeseen events, from terrorism to volcanic eruptions, can seriously impact demand. In the case of Asia, where cruising is new and things are fluid, getting itineraries right can be especially tricky.

'It's really fun to have it all come together,' Austin said. 'The nature of the business is that you have to make decisions into the future, based on data and history. From there, I rely on my experience and instinct.'

Her skill—and an important lesson she learned early on from a mentor, Peter Ratcliffe—means that Princess deployment is usually very successful. Read more in the profile of Austin, featured in the current issue of Seatrade Cruise Review.