In his first interview as Celebrity Cruises’ new CEO, Michael Bayley said he sees lots of opportunities for Celebrity to grow.
“Celebrity is a success story and it has a lot more potential,” he said. “I think that it’s well-positioned. The opportunity is finding a way to tell the story in a more compelling way to the customers so that we increase the demand for the brand. Then we can also have some success in optimizing the pricing and doing well for our trade partners.”
Bayley said that one the first calls he made after being appointed was to Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity’s senior vice president of sales, who immediately set up meetings for him with Celebrity’s top travel agents.
“One of my key missions is quickly developing relationships with our trade and travel partners, and making sure I understand how they view us,” he said. “I’m particularly interested in getting feedback on the Celebrity brand and how they see it and how we can improve it, and what we can do and how we can prioritize. I’m very interested in having that discussion and listening to our partners.”
Bayley said his first priority is spending time understanding all the nuances of the Celebrity brand.
“I’m not going to make any broad assumptions,” he said. “I’m going to talk and listen to a lot of people. I’m going to listen to our travel partners. I’m going to listen to the management team running the brand today. I’m going to listen to employees on the ships and shoreside to get their perspective and see how they see things. That’s my key focus: Understanding and getting everybody’s perspective and developing a go-forward plan.”
Bayley recently spent four years as executive vice president of international operations for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), overseeing the international expansion of its three brands (Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises).
Bayley said his selection does not necessarily mean the increased globalization of the Celebrity brand.
“Dan [Hanrahan, the former CEO] did a phenomenal job of building the brand into a really good position,” he said. “Certainly it has a huge American-centricity to it, and I don’t see that changing. It’s a heavily U.S.-sourced brand, and it appeals nicely to our customers here.”
Bayley said he is unique in the RCCL family for having worked in almost every area of the company.
He began his career with Royal Caribbean in 1981, working in a variety of shipboard and shoreside positions.
He has served as senior vice president of hotel operations for Royal Caribbean, and was also chairman of Island Cruises, a cruise line begun in 2002 by RCCL and British tour operator First Choice Holidays.
In March, Bayley was appointed executive vice president of operations for Royal Caribbean International.
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