Top cruise execs talk stress strategies, more at CruiseWorld panel

Top cruise execs talk stress strategies, more at CruiseWorld panel

FORT LAUDERDALE — CruiseWorld attendees heard from a panel of the top sales executives in the industry on topics ranging from how to bust stress to what they’re looking forward to in 2017.

The panel featured sales and marketing executives Ken Muskat of MSC Cruises, Vicki Freed of Royal Caribbean International, Dondra Ritzenthaler of Celebrity Cruises, Adolfo Perez of Carnival Cruise Line, Nathan Hickman of Norwegian Cruise Line and John Chernesky of Princess Cruises and Cunard Line.

Asked about the best way for the travel industry to go forward after the presidential election, Ritzenthaler said everyone is due for an escape. “Cruising is actually a great remedy for that post-election hangover,” she said. “We as an industry have a wonderful opportunity. We need to tell the world that cruising and taking vacations is opening up the world and we cannot be fearful.”

Added Muskat: “It’s over. People are ready to make that mental escape. We need you to promote it.”

Perez said it was also time to show support for CLIA: “There’s going to be a whole new set of ears in Washington.”

Asked how agents can get busy clients to take all the vacation they’re owed, Muskat talked about “bleisure,” a mash-up of business and leisure. “Bleisure is when you can take a leisure vacation before or after that business trip. It’s a perfect excuse for people to take vacation time that they have not considered before.”

Freed said agents can make business people feel comfortable escaping by providing the excuse of an occasion — a graduation or anniversary — that they feel justified in taking time off to do. “You need to help your clients find a reason for vacation,” she said.

On beating stress, Hickman said one person on his sales team makes it a habit of looking at emails only three times a day. He also recommends making a list of the career-advancing things you can reasonably do in a day, and then make another list of what you actually do in a day. He said the lists are often quite different.

Chernesky suggested a perspective break now and then. “Pull back and remind yourself what you’re doing and why you’re doing it,” he said.

Several of the executives cited graduations as what they’re looking forward to most in 2017. Perez has a son graduating from high school, Freed a son finishing college.

Muskat said he’s looking forward to the two new ships MSC will introduce in 2017, each the first in its class. “As a result it’s going to require us to continue to work with our travel partners more than ever,” he said.

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