Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 3

Amarilys Rivera of Princess Cruises

In the latest episode of our 3×3 Podcast, Julian sits down with Amarilys Rivera, Email Marketing Manager at Princess Cruises, to discuss how her team addressed the sudden shift in work culture over the past year and resolved marketing challenges in the midst of global travel restrictions, all while ensuring consistent and positive customer experiences.  

Podcast Excerpts

Julian ScottOff of an incredibly challenging 2020, can you share some backstory on what it was like at Princess Cruises when COVID-19 hit and how have things evolved since?  

Amarilys Rivera: 2020 was definitely challenging for so many and impacted the cruise industry in particular. When the borders were closing for travel, the tough decision was made by our president to pause our operations. We didn’t really know the severity of the issue, so at the time a 60-day pause was a really huge deal… We got together and I put together a simple letter template and then the next day we sent out really early in the morning our decision to pause our operations for 60 days and have to cancel the cruises. So that was really tough for so many people at our brands. But at the same time, for some reason, it also brought us so close together having to go through something like that.  

Julian ScottAs we look at that, as things are opening up, what are some of the biggest concerns of your passengers and how is Princess addressing those concerns from a marketing perspective? 

Amarilys Rivera: Our guests are so excited to get back on the ship and start their vacations. There are obviously concerns of what happens if I need to cancel my vacation for whatever reason. In all of our emails that are promotional or informational, we do have a section about our overarching program, which is Cruise with Confidence. And in there, there’s different pillar scenarios to address different concerns. We have Book with Confidence, allowing flexibility to our guests to make any changes to their travel plan. And then we also have Cruise Health to just ensure the guests that our top priority is the health and safety of our guests and our crew. And then also just highlighting the exciting things and getting them excited about their cruise. We have our pre-cruise series as well. That is really extensive and gets people really excited.  

Julian ScottA lot of organizations with the onset of covid and the pandemic have had to make changes, and some of them we hope will go away and some will probably stick around for quite a while. When we look at the cruise experience, what has carried over or what is new and unique that future guests can expect? 

Amarilys Rivera: The Medallion Class Experience, that is basically our app on board. It’s something that we had pre-pandemic. It’s something that I think is going to work so great for the future, the new future that we have. With the app, we have OceanNow. You can request food and beverages to wherever you are on the ship. I actually had the privilege to go on one of our cruises and experience that. And then, we have touchless. When you approach your stateroom door, the door unlocks so you actually don’t even have to touch the handle. Giving that peace of mind to the guests that when the stateroom stewardess is going in they’re not necessarily having to touch the handle and all of that. There’s a lot of interesting and cool things that are happening with the Medallion Class Experience and the apps in particular that I think are going to continue on to the future, just to create less friction for our guests. I think we were really fortunate to have invested in such an experience prior.  

Julian ScottWell as we look back now and if there was anything you could change or do differently because obviously there’s been lots of learnings that we’ve all had painful mistakes made as we try to navigate the past almost two years. What were those lessons and what would you do differently at this point? 

Amarilys Rivera: When I had to come up with a solution and create a process for how we get these communications out to our audience, it was just kind of quick on the fly that I just thought of and worked through. And in the beginning, it still involved my VP so heavily and I felt I had to relieve her in some way of this, but I didn’t really know the best way to go about it. Once I spoke up a little bit and said, “Hey, I think we need to really fine-tune this a little bit”, the process has been a lot smoother. I mean of course it was all a learning curve for everyone, but just making sure to speak up quicker and not have to hold on to certain things, I think would be the one thing that I would have changed. But definitely a lesson that I now know.  

Julian Scott: That’s really good advice for life in general: speak up sooner. Well, I think you should give yourself a little slack just because when all this was happening not only were we worried about our careers and what was happening at work, we had all the impact of what was happening around us in our lives. So, I know it was a lot. It’s easy to be reflective and critical of ourselves, but at the same time we all did the best we could and we’re here and our decisions got us to the point, where we’re still hanging in there and ready to embark on new adventures. 

View the podcast episode here to listen to the entire discussion about resolving marketing challenges in the midst of global travel restrictions, all while ensuring consistent and positive customer experiences. 

Posted by Aaron Smith

CEO at Sageflo