Lisa Bauer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Starboard Cruise Services, is ‘very optimistic’ about 2023 and believes that occupancy levels will be more buoyant. However, she also expects supply chain issues to remain.
Bauer shared her comments for the TRBusiness Global Industry Survey 2023*, staring with her assessment of the travel retail industry in 2022.
“The beginning of the year was very different to the end of 2022 and travel retail in general really showed its resilience,” said Bauer.
“Very difficult protocols were in place that restricted travel early in the year, between vaccine and testing requirements, masks, etc, which made it very difficult for employees serving the guests returning to travel.
“However, the guests that did elect to travel certainly had pent-up demand and the average spend per guest was way above historical levels.
“China was the outlier, and the impact of not being in mainland China clearly impacted overall retail results.
“The beginning of the year was very different to the end of 2022 and travel retail in general really showed its resilience.” Lisa Bauer, President & CEO, Starboard Cruise Services
“A big issue for travel retail was both the supply chain challenges and the impact of increased fuel and transportation costs.
“We were also challenged with a large number of sales associates not electing to return to retail, so our recruiting had to be completely revamped and we welcomed a significant amount of new hires to the team.”
Read on for Bauer’s answers to our top questions…
Question: What are your expectations for your business in travel retail in 2023 and what are the major challenges you anticipate?
Answer from Lisa Bauer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Starboard Cruise Services: We are very optimistic about 2023 and occupancy levels returning to pre-pandemic levels. China remains a wild card, and at this time I don’t anticipate international cruise lines returning to the area during 2023 but we hope we are wrong*.
We are counting on the fill rates and global supply chain challenges to get better, but not be completely solved.
How do you anticipate inflation and the risk of global recession affecting your business and the consumer appetite to spend in the travel retail channel in 2023?
Unless a recession is at the levels of 2008, we believe travel retail won’t feel the effects as broadly as other areas.
Customers want experiences and want to travel and we believe they will make purchases while travelling to commemorate something they are celebrating; a memory of the destination they visited, a gift for a loved one at home, etc.
How has the shift in passenger demographics as a result of the pandemic/travel restrictions affected your product portfolio and growth plans?
The biggest impact on growth has been the shutdown of Mainland China.
In addition, a few of our cruise partners that experienced bankruptcy also impacted growth plans.
Stagnant conversion rates continue to pose a challenge for DF&TR. How should the industry be addressing this in a post-pandemic environment?
We continue to believe experiential and entertainment retail and virtual, digital and social ways to interact with the guest will drive enhanced conversion.
“We are very optimistic about 2023 and occupancy levels returning to pre-pandemic levels.” Lisa Bauer, President & CEO, Starboard Cruise Services
All opportunities to have a retail purchase not feel like a purchase, but rather an extension of their cruise and vacation will drive purchase.
Also, telling our brands’ stories and efforts on social responsibility and sustainability will also appeal to the purchaser.
CLICK HERE: To read the Global Industry Survey 2023 in full.
*The Global Industry Survey was conducted during November 2022 up until the second week of January 2023. Some of the views expressed are representative of individuals rather than their entire organisations. Lisa Bauer completed the Global Industry Survey at the end of November, prior to the announcement from China that it would end its quarantine policy for inbound travellers beginning 8 January 2023 in a major step towards unlocking the country’s borders after three years of stringent Covid-19 measures.