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As travel agents and consumers look forward to Cunard’s highly anticipated fourth Queen ship, Josh Leibowitz — senior vice president for North America for Cunard and chief strategy officer for Carnival Corporation & Plc — chatted with us about the future of the historic company.
Continuing from a grand lineage of ocean liners, Cunard will soon grow its fleet to an impressive quartet. Its next vessel will offer an opportunity to broaden the line’s exposure to a larger pool of cruisers and travel professionals. And Leibowitz has the know-how to leverage it, which will benefit the company and vacationers alike.
How are you applying your holistic corporate strategy to Cunard, specifically?The key opportunity and priority for all of us in this industry is to grow demand for cruise vacations, and from a strategy standpoint, that has really been the focus I’ve been emphasizing since I joined in 2017. At Cunard, I’ve had the benefit of directly implementing some of the things that we’ve been putting in place across all the Carnival brands.
First and foremost is our relationship with travel agents, and we are going out on a tour to reestablish our relationship with them. All of Carnival’s brands bring more cruise business to agents than nearly all the others in the industry combined. When I walk into the door as both chief strategy officer of the corporation and head of Cunard, I’m able to have both a specific conversation about Cunard, as well as a broader conversation about the whole Carnival portfolio.
A second example is the rollout of our advanced revenue management and inventory tool, which allows us to maximize yield and is beneficial to both us and our agents for driving higher commissions. We call that system “Yoda.” My team developed it for six of our brands, and we now use it at Cunard.
One last example is that we’ve recently launched a brand-new web platform that is consumer-facing and features an incredibly engaging web experience. Cunard will roll out that platform later this year, which will drive better user engagement, more interest and the opportunity for the consumer to learn about the cruises and contact their agent.
What do you think attracts consumers to Cunard, and what keeps them coming back?One of the things people always ask about Cunard is, “How is it possible that the brand has been around for this long?” The brand, which has been around for 180 years , has to continue to change; it has only been around that long because it adapts to consumer wants and interests. It’s constantly innovating.
At our core, we are a five-star floating hotel. We offer luxurious service. Not only do we offer the ultimate guide to the most iconic ports around the world; we also provide people something we call the “luxury of time” — access to time and space that’s quite unique from a vacation standpoint. I liken it to the experience of walking into some of the most iconic hotels in the world — say, a Biltmore or a Savoy — where you immediately feel like you’re someplace special and where you can relax, unwind, be yourself and learn, explore and engage.
Those core aspects of the Cunard experience are extraordinary. We will continue to make what we call “Only on Cunard” moments really shine.
Can you give us some insight into the upcoming fourth Queen vessel?The ship will be incredible. We are rethinking all the spaces top to bottom, and the design will be a current interpretation of timelessness. The activities off-ship and onboard will preserve many of the things people love about Cunard, but you will also see some new innovations. We’ll have the opportunity to offer guests even that much more diversification of deployment.
Having seen the actual spaces and seen the deck and suite layouts, I can say the Grill Suites are going to be incredible, as will the outdoor spaces and the expansion of the Britannia Club.
Each of the Queens has a uniqueness and remarkableness to it. On the new ship, we’ll be sure to have the kinds of features onboard that people love, as well as new features that guests will be talking about for a long while.