One of the highlights of this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global event was a Cruise Retail Session organized by Nadine Heubel, Seatrade’s Retail Ambassador (whose day job is heading up the travel retail advisory practice for North America at Newmark.)
Heubel introduced the panel by thanking Seatrade for acknowledging the importance of the retail sector within the cruise industry, and designating the session as the “official start of putting retail on the map in a more meaningful way.”
Excellently moderated by The Moodie Davitt Report’s Dermot Davitt, the panel represented the industry “Trinity” from the lens of the cruise line, the retailer and a brand: Carnival Cruise Line VP of Onboard Revenue Luis Terife, Starboard Cruise Services President & CEO Lisa Bauer, and What Comes Around Goes Around CEO Seth Weisser (representing the very hot product category of vintage fashion).
The overall theme was how to ensure the industry has a strong, sustainable, robust cruise retail sector in the years ahead. Specific topics touched on shared insights on key consumer drivers such as sustainability and digitalization, who the new cruise consumer is and what motivates them to shop onboard, the growing importance of experiential retail and how the assortment and retail experiences should be adapted to guests’ evolving needs.
Setting the stage, Heubel reported that cruise retail revenue was estimated to be approximately US$2 billion in 2019, and with more than 100 new ships currently under construction, this number is forecast to increase significantly over the coming years.
As passenger numbers increase, so too has the space dedicated to retail – but so have guest expectations towards the retail offer, she said.
“While maybe 10 years ago guests could be satisfied and revenue maximized with great promotional deals only, in today’s world this is far from enough,” cautioned Heubel.
Ships continue to create amazing entertainment options – and onboard retail must be part of this evolution if it is to remain relevant for the cruise guest.
The more space dedicated to retail on a cruise ship, the higher revenue generated. Equally important, the more guests are satisfied with the retail offer, the higher their overall net promoter score will be – a critically important KPI for the cruise industry.
“No party of the value chain can achieve this alone,” said Heubel. “If we want the guest to win, we all have to win – cruise lines, retailers and vendors.”
The retail session at the 2023 Seatrade Cruise Global was seen as a way to kickstart the cruise trinity discussions, with more to come.