Lessons in working with purpose whilst cruising in Alaska.

Naomi Simson
Jul 8 · 5 min read

This is the first time in a year that I have had no internet. I struggled with it, but the time ‘unplugged’ has been most valuable. I brought one book — Inspired Inc (which I consumed with fervour), which is full of lessons in working with purpose. What I did most in my free ‘air time’ was reflect, explore and discover where and why I spend my energy where I do.

Please forgive me if this post is a little self-indulgent. I do realize that in the last year or so I have not been blogging as regularly — and I wondered why. I am definitely still learning. I am deeply curious. I found that I need space and time to observe. I race a lot from project to project.

In the last few years since creating the Big Red Group with business partner David Anderson — it has been all hands-on deck. Facing the ship forward (oh there will be lots of boating puns in this post) Establishing our evolved sense of purpose, aligning the team on values. As well as updating systems, processes… and a pursuit of relentless execution.

I am energized by this sense of purpose ‘To shift the way people experience life’.

Much of the time I watched how the cruise line runs its business. And I realized there is much for me (and perhaps other businesses) to learn from this cruising experience.

From the moment we boarded the ship I could see business lessons. In almost every interaction with the onboard team.

Lesson 1. Empower everyone on the team to enhance the customer experience — know the product intimately.

The boat was big — thousands of guests, yet every point of contact was personalized. We had booked experiences for each of the ports — there was reminders, offers of upgrades and additional options presented by any of the crew. The real time booking system meant that a barman, or attendant — anyone could quickly alter or change a booking or reservation. No questions asked. Personal reminder cards and a personalized app with all our restaurant and activity bookings. Each team member seemed to live by the philosophy that it was his or her job to make sure that everything would be perfect for us.

Lesson 2. Bundled products make it easier for the customer — know the customer really well.

Our first lunch (and interaction with a team member) a charming well-trained waiter’s response as we ordered a drink — he whispered “you do know that I can give you five beers for the price of four because you are my first customer on this cruise” and then he jested that every customer was like his first. Now whilst the cynics amongst you would say ‘You’ve been super sized’. Here is the truth — we were likely to drink more than five beers in seven days. I reflected that our waiter also appeared to have the authority to be himself, ‘close the sale’ and make us feel special. The bundle made it easier for us.

Lesson 3. Building anticipation and connection — Did you want the photo with that?

In our room there was a few extra touches like flowers and champagne — these were offered after we booked the trip — throughout the two months prior to our journey there were different services, experiences and activities offered — keeping us excited about our forthcoming adventure. This included booking shore activities, and then after they were booked checking that we had all that we needed for that day (did you want a photo?) — My husband (always the romantic, which they must have realized) even had arrange for chocolate strawberries to be delivered in the evening of our first day) it instantly my experience of my first cruise.

Lesson 4. Deals to close the sale.

There were bundles and offers throughout the week which I have mentioned but how and when they were offered made the difference. We had booked a spa treatment before leaving home — but once there another upgraded deal was presented by the technician — one massage turned into two, and a blow dry to into a hair treatment and a facial. This might have appeared as a ‘hard sell’ — but I liked the way that the team were maximizing the experience for us, as well as making sure that they were fully booked. It showed that they were running a business within a business that people really value. They were intentional about the success of the cruise too.

Lesson 5. Future sell — and stay connected.

Two days before the end of the cruise we received more personalized special offers, videos and recommendations for what we could do next with the cruise company. “It is always good to plan and have something to look forward to” they said, “we have personal consultants on board to help find the right next holiday for you.” Inferring that we were now part of the cruising family. And [of course] there was a financial benefit for booking early too.

Is this too much? Is it over sell? Or is it a business that is predictive and looking to individually serve each customer how they want to be served.

As soon as I opened my laptop back in the world of Wi-Fi — pretty much the first email was a customer survey about the cruise… and there must have been 100 questions on every aspect of the trip. I filled it all in, as I am curious to know if that data will be used to serve me an even more customized experience in the future.

My experience was seamless, I was on holiday, and I trusted this business to deliver the right thing at the right time. I suspect there is a fine line between trust, service and ‘being a bit weird about what they know.’

I also looked up the company’s mission when I returned to Wi-Fi; I did not see it printed anywhere on board (not that I noticed).

The purpose:

Through excellence we create once-in-a-lifetime experiences, every time.

I believe that each team member did his or her bit in creating this… and it is just the way they choose to work. There were many other lessons in working with purpose.

Everyone seemed to be having a good time including all the crew — we did, and I was relaxed.

Originally published at Naomi Simson.


This is a selection of my blogs, courses, insights, white papers and musings

Naomi Simson

Written by

Co-Founder The Big Red Group: RedBalloon, Adrenaline.com.au Redii.com. Shark Tank AU. ‘Live What You Love’ & ‘Ready To Soar’ http://naomisimson.com/


This is a selection of my blogs, courses, insights, white papers and musings