TRConnect Covid-19 webinar questions answered: Lisa Bauer, Starboard CS

By Luke Barras-hill |

Carnival-Horizon-Starboard-TRConnectWebinarquestionsAs reported, TRBusiness received a tidal wave of cross-industry support for the inaugural Travel Retail Connect (TRConnect) Covid-19 webinar, which aired on 5 May.

The 75-minute session hosted at 14:00 CET attracted 899 registrations, with just over 500 permitted to watch live [to view a repeat of the webinar, click below].

Entitled, ‘Emerging Stronger in a Post-Covid World’, the first showing in TRBusiness’ series of incisive, thought-provoking webinars struck to the root of what is a multi-faceted topic and as viewers discovered, one with many converging opinions.

During a dynamic Q&A session, panellists agreed to address any unanswered questions at a later date. We can now provide the answers to those burning questions for Starboard Cruise Services President and Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bauer.

When do you expect Asia to open up?

Lisa Bauer: With our Shanghai presence, we started dealing with Covid-19 in January when our Asia team began working from home. After a full sanitisation of our office building, our teams are back in the office with new health safety regulations in place, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. They are also adjusting office hours and working shorter shifts, to avoid commuting during peak hours.

Since Asia was hit first, they started the recovery phase before the rest of the world and we’ll be looking to Asia’s reopening strategy as a guidance for our own plans. The Asia Pacific region has already commenced slowly reopening its economy and experimenting with reopening borders to selective travelling and allowing the kind of regular travel that is essential to the global economy. Commercial centres, restaurants and luxury outlets have reopened, most at a reduced capacity.


Starboard Cruise Services is investigating new digital concepts aimed at creating a 360-degree retail experience for guests when they are ready to re-embark on cruise journeys.

We believe Asia will gradually reopen over numerous phases throughout the year. China, for instance, reopened 80% of department stores and supermarkets [Source: Jing Daily] in March as they commenced the first-tier of their reopening plans.

Which type of marketing activations and activities can stores do in this context and which marketing tools can they use to influence consumer behaviour?

In-store communications will indeed be fundamentally altered as we know it; there are still opportunities for highly personalised experiences, such as private appointments with shopping experts. We understand it will be a challenge for many stores to incorporate new marketing interaction activities, as we can on cruise ships, and these shops need to focus on rebuilding consumer confidence and trust, all while renewing excitement about the shopping experiences.


Lisa Bauer, President and CEO, Starboard Cruise Services.

Would it be possible to transform travel retail into an e-commerce environment via individual e-commerce sites by each operator, or do you see an opportunity to create a marketplace like Amazon of travel retail?

Yes, we believe many will adapt and pivot their business models to include e-commerce sites if retailers haven’t already done so. Investing in ecommerce will be key to staying relevant during this time as consumers are spending more time and money online and will continue to do so post-Covid.

As we evaluate every aspect of the onboard cruise retail experience, we believe there will be a fundamental shift and focus on digital/online shopping accessibility; New formulations of onboard retail activations; managed guest flow and private events; and concierge shopping services (delivery of goods to suites).

At Starboard, we’re exploring new digital concepts to offer our cruise partners and guests when they commence sailing. We’re focused on delivering seamless and integrated retail experiences throughout the customer journey and envisioning the future of onboard retail as we did when we made the fundamental shift from conducting retail transactions to delivering retail experiences. We see the new wave of cruise retail as a 360-degree [experience] pre – during and post cruise.

Registration for the second TRConnect webinar,  which takes place on Tuesday 2 June at 14.00 CET and will focus on the necessary evolution of travel retail customer engagement in-store and inflight in a post-Covid-19 context, is now open.

Register now white and purple button

Lisa Bauer took part in an episode of TRBusiness’ ‘Adapt & Survive’ Skype video interview series, which can be viewed here.



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