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Sarah Slattery Interviews Lorraine Quinn, Celebrity Cruises

Sarah Slattery Interviews Lorraine Quinn, Celebrity Cruises

ITTN’s Sarah Slattery interviewed Lorraine Quinn, Business Development Manager at Celebrity Cruises, onboard Celebrity Silhouette when the ship docked in Dublin.

After a brief tour of Celebrity Silhouette and some time at my leisure, I understood very quickly why Celebrity Cruises is a class above many mainstream cruise lines. They possess some of the most expensive ships ever made. The soft bright furnishings mixed with large open spaces create a different ambiance to previous ships that I had visited. It is lavishly furnished but with crisp whites and soft creams, no heavy carpets or dark wooden panelling. Over 85% of cabins have balconies. Many guests like to stay on their balcony at various stages throughout the day, which means that even at full capacity (2,800 guests), the ship never feels crowded.

Solarium on board Celebrity Silhouette.

Solarium on board Celebrity Silhouette

There are plenty of loungers, cabanas and even hammocks to relax in. Somehow I doubt there is ever a struggle to find a place to chill out. There is only one announcement per day. A full itinerary of activities is placed in your cabin each night, thus avoiding the regular announcements for card games and aqua aerobics. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and although renowned for luxury it feels almost casual. There are over 10 restaurants to choose from, some with cover charges. There is an ice bar, a real grass lawn, an iLounge, which actually sells Apple merchandise (the only one at sea), Michael Kors, Bvlgari and Breitling stores, and an excellent wine tasting area. It really is world class. It is no surprise that the hashtag for the event was #ModernLuxuryDublin.

Inside a Cabana on the Lawn of Celebrity Silhouette.

Inside a cabana on the lawn of Celebrity Silhouette

Lorraine was due to leave her role as Head of Sales for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line almost two years ago. She wanted to take some time out, but somehow this didn’t exactly go as planned. Lorraine’s commitment and passion in her role clearly did not go unnoticed. At the same time the company was restructuring and Lorraine was asked to stay on to help through the transition. She never left.

Originally looking after three brands, Royal Caribbean Internationl, Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises, Lorraine’s sole responsibility now is Celebrity Cruises. She is ‘happier’ working two to three days per week as Celebrity’s Business Development Manager. She enjoys the variety that this brings. She no longer travels countrywide and, except for an occasional trip to the UK once or twice a month, she works in Dublin.

Lorraine was instrumental in launching Celebrity’s loyalty programme in the UK and Ireland, ‘Celebrity Rewards’. She liaises with the Miami team about promotions and monitors feedback and surveys from customers and trade partners. Lorraine is very interested in how things work onboard and enjoys seeing this side of the business now. “I am really excited to have Silhouette here. With visits in June, July and August, I hope that travel agents and trade partners will understand what the new ships are all about. We are laying good foundations for the future of Celebrity in Ireland,” said Lorraine.

Grand Cuvee Dining Room on Celebrity Silhouette.

Grand Cuvee dining room on Celebrity Silhouette

Lorraine works on “keeping onboard sales alive”. There is a dedicated sales agent on each Celebrity cruise. This accounts for 10% of their overall sales. Unlike some of their competitors, any sale made onboard the ship will be attributed to the travel agent who originally booked the customer. This must be a massive selling point for travel agents on a cruise line that has 40% repeat customers.

Lorraine feels that, although she is competing with Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines, “Celebrity is in a different space”. They have listened to what their customers want and offer many overnight stays in major cities. You can visit festivals such as Cannes or Mardi Gras and overnight onboard. Celebrity also offer a selection of 10- and 11-night cruises and try to feature as many unique offerings as possible. They also have their Xpedition ship, which practically sells itself. I asked Lorraine if she had the opportunity of cruising on Xpedition, but unfortunately not. This sells without any advertising, press trips or promotions. It is for all of these reasons Celebrity feel they have a different target audience and are competing with other luxury markets rather than just other cruise lines. Although the pressure was more intense during tougher economic times, now they are competing with customers upgrading their kitchens or buying luxury brands.

Tuscan Grill, speciality restaurant on board Celebrity Silhouette.

Tuscan Grill, speciality restaurant onboard Celebrity Silhouette

There is now a dedicated Irish website, Irish brochure and free-phone number to enhance the booking process for trade partners and clients. The introduction of direct flights from Dublin and excellent early booking offers have made it necessary for Celebrity to have a strategic account manager for Ireland. Drew Bolton has been very active already in Ireland. With their competitive pricing and high standards, he is likely to be busy!

Lorraine’s favourite Celebrity cruise was visiting the Norwegian fjords. She also recalls a group trip on Equinox where there was a large group of 11 in her party. “Everyone did their own thing during the day and then met together over dinner to tell us all about it. This epitomises what cruising is all about,” says Lorraine. She usually cruises biannually and also likes to take educational trips with her family. She recently enjoyed a trip through Italy, visiting Pompeii and Pisa and spent Christmas in Australia with her husband’s family.

Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Silhouette

Lorraine and her husband John have two children, Shauna (9) and Evan (5). She is a member of a running club and also coaches camogie. Lorraine owns a labradoodle, who needs a lot of walking! She also loves to read, particularly autobiographies. Lorraine says she is “sort of an official golfer” after joining a golf club this year. “It is an investment in my future, I love outdoors and can play it anywhere in the world, and I love the fact that it is ageless!” I am genuinely wondering how she fits it all in and I am beginning to understand how Lorraine needed to change her role!

As we discuss family life and careers, I find it so easy to converse with Lorraine. Her laugh is infectious and although this was my first conversation with her, I felt like we had known each other for a long time. She certainly has a gift of connecting with people. That, combined with her passion and commitments to her job, are just some of the reasons why Lorraine is so well respected in our industry.

I have no doubt the vision Lorraine has for Celebrity Cruises will come to pass. Celebrity Cruises will become a household name in Ireland before long. Watch this space!

Lorraine’s  Short-Haul Answers

Diet or Exercise? – Exercise

Beer or Wine? – Wine

George Clooney or Brad Pitt? – Brad Pitt

Dine In or Dine Out? – Dine Out

Jeans or Skirt? – Jeans

Long-Haul or Short-Haul? – Short-Haul

Bikini or Swimsuit? – Swimsuit

Beach or Pool? – Beach

Adventure or Relaxation? – Adventure

Last Self-Purchase – Gucci Bamboo

What would she do if money wasn’t an issue – Take a year off and travel the world

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Sarah Slattery has been in the travel industry for the past 24 years, initially as a sales consultant and progressed to sales and marketing director of Skytours. Sarah’s experience and knowledge led to a regular slot on TV3 as the travel expert on the Morning Show. She has her own blog www.thetravelexpert.ie which offers advice on destinations and the best travel deals.

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