Tuesday, 15 October 2013

In keynote, Norwegian's Sheehan to share success strategies

In keynote, Norwegian's Sheehan to share success strategies

2013 CruiseWorldKevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has accomplished a lot in the relatively short time that he has held that title, and creating and executing a business strategy will be the focus of his address when he gives the keynote speech at Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld on Nov. 8 in Fort Lauderdale.

Putting plans into action is the theme for that day, the final day of the three-day conference, and Sheehan will share not only what he had to do at Norwegian, but also the lessons he learned that apply to businesses of any size, from a one-person, home-based operation to an agency with tens of millions of dollars in annual sales.

When he arrived at the cruise line in 2007, "We had the right assets and proposition, but we didn't communicate well, and we didn't execute well," he said in a recent interview at his office at Norwegian's Miami headquarters. "We put in the right management team that could really demonstrate what the brand stood for. And what it didn't."
Kevin SheehanIn his keynote, Sheehan will stress the importance of relationships in execution, including the importance of team building and nurturing supplier/retailer relations.

"When the recession hit, we held onto every single employee," he continued. "We rode through it together. Getting the team behind the culture with passion and the belief that they can get things done is critical.

"I'm not the guy who makes it happen, but I'm on ships every month, connecting with the crew. We have all-hands meetings, and we talk about what we're doing. I meet with senior officers and then with all the officers. And we follow that with a series of meetings with crew that officers aren't allowed to attend and discuss what's good, bad and what can improve."

Sheehan also focused on relations with travel agents, initiating the Partners First program.

"At the end of the day, [relationships] are why we have best-in-class margins and return on investor capital," he said. "We had none of that before."

Following the address, Sheehan will sit down onstage for an interview with Travel Weekly Editor in Chief Arnie Weissmann. The two will explore the decision-making processes in business and look at why, for instance, Norwegian, unlike its competitors, has so far stuck with a single brand. They will also look at what opportunities are ahead for the line and for agents.

Sheehan is one of three top cruise line executives who will be addressing agents. On Nov. 6, delegates will hear from Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, and on Nov. 7, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman Richard Fain will address attendees.

Each will also sit for an onstage interview with Weissmann.

The conference, which also features seminars, a trade show and networking opportunities, will be held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center Nov. 6 through 8; ship inspections of vessels such as the Royal Princess, the Carnival Breeze, the Oasis of the Seas, the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Norwegian Epic will bookend the show on Nov. 5 and Nov. 9 and 10. Registration for ship inspections closes Oct. 18.