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Published in: Cruise News

“Guests sail on our nine brands, and our strategy is to have the world’s leading cruise brands, some of which are global and some of which are local,” said Josh Leibowitz, chief strategy officer for Carnival Corporation and senior vice president for Cunard North America.

“Each of the brands are targeted to market segments and yet each have somewhat similar needs in order to drive their business success. My job is to take input from the brands and from the markets and then focus on the things that can really make a difference to help our brands become more successful,” he said.

“We have worked on our brand segmentation and brand stories,” he continued. “Each brand has signature moments that are unique and differentiated from each other.”

Using Holland America Line as an example, Leibowitz pointed out how the brand today is defined by its unique guest experiences around music with the Lincoln Center Stage concept, featuring outstanding musicians; the BB King’s Blues Club, and the Rolling Stone Rock Room, in addition to its Culinary Council offerings, and BBC Earth for educational programs.

“Holland America has emerged as a brand where you can go and get this classic European hotel feel which we have enhanced with the music you love from your life,” he added.

“The key is to make sure the brands stay true to themselves,” he said.

Having added the title of senior vice president Cunard North America three years ago, Leibowitz said that since Cunard has been around for nearly 180 years people may be tempted not to mess with it. His view is the opposite. The reason why Cunard has been around so long and is as vibrant as it is today, he said, is because it has adapted and changed, but also stayed true to its character, offering “exceptional travel experiences around the world and luxury moments.”

“The first thing I did was to go out and meet our many travel agent partners and ask them what we can do to help grow their Cunard business. The focus has been on telling the Cunard story.”

Leibowitz joined Carnival Corporation in 2013. Having working as a partner at McKinsey & Co., he said: “I moved from the advice-business to the to-do-business, that was a big milestone for me.”

On an industry-wide basis, Leibowitz said the biggest challenge is to get a bigger “share of suitcase” (a term trademarked by Carnival), meaning a bigger share of the overall travel market.

With the average consumer taking three to four vacations a year, the goal for the industry, he said, should be that one of the vacations is a cruise.

“The cruise industry is tiny as relates to the broader hotel market, so if the average vacationer takes one cruise every five years, we should be in perfect shape.

“We are building as an industry at about a six-and-half percent growth rate per year, but we are only 2 percent of the hotel rooms in the world. So to approach the hotel size, we would need 50 times the growth we are having.

“And we should not get caught up in ‘cruise on my brand and not your brand,’ but instead convince people to spend their vacation on the water in the brand that best meet their needs and that will help us all grow.

“We are an incredible industry and have great opportunity to stimulate and grow demand and that should be our top focus.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Spring 2019

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