Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds
Issue link: http://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/662902
d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S u m m e r 2 0 1 6 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 33 within the time constraints of most cruises. Not only does Celeb- rity sail the seven seas, but it also sails to the seven continents. It markets its destinations nearly as much as it does its ships. Tis year, Celebrity ofers 411 cruise options on its nine ships. Tey include traveling to seven signature events around the world, such as Rio for Carnival, Scotland for the British Open, and Cannes for the Cannes Film Festival. "Cruising is much diferent today than when I began in the industry 31 years ago," says Lutof-Perlo. "People want so much more out of the cruise experience. For example, our guests want to vacation the way they live their lives, only better. And today people can aford that. Our industry has evolved the way soci- ety has evolved. So whether you're Mercedes or BMW, you are in the category where you are accessible to more people than previously. Luxury is much more approachable for all brands, including cruise brands." Over the last 25 years, cruising has grown at an astronomical rate. In 1990, 3.7 million people took a cruise. In 2015, that fgure was more than 22 million on passenger trips. As a result, the competition has been heating up. Nowadays, there are many more guided-tour options, including luxury travel on land as well as sea. Within the cruise industry, the competition is ferce. In 2015, cruising was a $39 billion indus- try, a signifcant increase over 2014. Celebrity accounts for 5.7 percent of that revenue, according to CruiseMarketWatch.com. Lutof-Perlo, along with her peers in the C-suite (or should we say Sea-suite?), battles the misperceptions attached to the cruising experience. Some people feel that cruises do not allow them to have an immersive experience, she says. Others worry about seasickness or being confned in a small space. Still others fear the endless bufet. "But those couldn't be further from the truth," she says. "Sail- ing on one of our ships is like being in a beautiful and spacious hotel. Our ships are so well built and stabilized that 99 percent of the time you don't even know you're on a ship." Busting through barriers L utof-Perlo has had another misconception to combat as well: that a woman is not capable of leading in the male- dominated ship industry. It's sort of like a woman being named the head coach of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Running a cruise line means supervising hotel operations, the onboard experience, and partnerships with celebrities, along with having responsibility for shipbuilding, marine regulations, marine ecology, and development of new ships. Currently, for example, Lutof-Perlo is leading Celebrity in Project Edge, the creation of two new 2,900-passenger ships for its premium line, slated to be delivered in 2018. Patrik Dahlgren, Royal Caribbean's vice president of marine operations, says that Lutof-Perlo has won over the mainly male employees in Marine Operations, in large part by successfully helming the division. "She is a natural leader—she's transformative, collaborative, and empowering," says Dahlgren. "Tat's not easy in an industry like this, where there are a lot of male egos. Traditionally our in- dustry is full of men who all view themselves as being the best. I think that sometimes a woman is just searching for the right answer as opposed to being the frst one to have that answer. "S o she came into the organization asking, 'How can we improve?' Te men may have had some reluctance at frst, just because they saw a woman up there, but quickly the team respected and responded. In the end, it's the leadership traits that are important, not whether you are male or female." One of Lutof-Perlo's frst decisions when she became president and CEO was to hire the frst woman captain for Celebrity, Kate McCue, who was also the frst female American ship captain of a mega-cruise ship in the United States. "I considered it part of my responsibility to use my opportunity to pay it forward and help not only other woman, but other people in a meaningful way," she says. "Tat gives me a lot of joy and pleasure." Cruising with her family is another source of pleasure for Lutof-Perlo. At least once a year, she takes her family on a multi- generational trip. She calls last year's trip, to Alaska, her favorite cruise of all time. "I remind myself, every day, to think about what we are pro- viding—a service that is all about fun," she says. "With that comes all the real pressures of business, but I am lucky to work in an industry in which our business is providing an amazing experience that people will never forget. Tat is special." DW Lutoff-Perlo mingles at a summer- time Grass is Greener event in San Francisco.