Keeping cruise retail vibrant, fun and relevant: One on One with Lisa Bauer, Starboard Cruise Services President and CEO

Travel Markets Insider’s Lois Pasternak had an opportunity to sit down with Lisa Bauer, Starboard Cruise Services President and CEO, during the recent Seatrade Cruise Global, just days after the cruise retailer announced the news of its extensive “refresh.” From its new guiding North Star emblem to its vibrant color palette, every element is geared to keeping the industry leader going forward.

TMI: How did you come to decide to refresh and what are the various components?

Lisa Bauer, President and CEO of Starboard

The idea started when we created our new North Star so that our employees, cruise lines and vendors really understood what Starboard stands for. And that is where we landed on “Curate a Vibrant World.” This really revolved around the idea of “curate,” meaning hand-selected and being very thoughtful around everything that we were doing and not having it be any more about the category, whether it be leather handbags, or alcohol, or apparel. But rather “how do you curate by cruise line, by itinerary something that would really resonate with the guests.” If you look at the color palette as part of the rebranding, you see the vibrancy of “curate a vibrant world” – it screams Caribbean, it screams Mediterranean, it screams Palm trees and fun. It illustrates this idea that I am on vacation, I am on holiday, I want to be relaxed, I want to have a great time. We were playful with it, honestly. And then we really had fun with some of our core values around things like curiosity, transparency, grit, and we created stickers for all of our employees to put on their luggage and their laptops. It is creating a great way of engaging with our employees and it’s fun! Introducing our new Star icon has been quite a lot of fun too. What do you see when you look at the star? A star? The bows of ships? A figure with its arms outstretched? We are all excited about it. We like that different people see it differently. It stands for diversity. Diversity of thought, for example.

It goes back to the idea of wanderlust, and the fact that the guests are looking for experiences and traveling the world and fulfilling their bucket list.

TMI: So why now?

This was just a natural evolution. During COVID was when we created the North Star and as we started coming back to the office and started revamping, it was a natural time to relaunch the color palettes, and all the playful things we have done to bring the branding and North Star to life. We are all post-COVID. What better time to refresh? Let’s look out of the windshield and not the rear mirror. That is the direction we want to go – forward. And we think the timing could not have been more perfect.

TMI: What has been the response from the cruise partners?

Our cruise partners are more about how we are curating and less about how we are presenting our branding—because we are not a (consumer facing) brand. But they are really relying on us for how we deliver on our concept, how we curate, how we show up more playful, how we bring that vibrancy—that’s what the cruise lines are looking for from us.

TMI: How are your brands responding?

The brands are very excited. Some of the things that we are doing – like popups and the pop-ins – and the beautiful new products we are launching, this is resonating. TMI: How are you using this vibrant new image? It is everywhere. It is in the new signage in our offices, in our email signature, it is in all of our collateral – we are using the new North Star starburst with our employees, with our shore-side people. And we gave out stickers to all the crew to use. Look at this one: “I’m an Alchemist.” Alchemy is all about change and transformation, and this is the transformation of the brand. And we have a whole new website.
I think our people did an incredible job. It’s bold. It’s vibrant. It’s fun.

TMI: Does Starboard have any new cruise partners coming into the portfolio?

We have Virgin Voyages, as already announced, and on the luxury side we have three new partners: Ponant, Scenic, and Emerald. We expect another announcement soon, as well.