Richard Fain On Plastic Straws & The Pace Of Change

Cruise Week

A constant theme emerging from Cruise Week’s recent talks with industry execs is the industry's ability to adapt to change, and how that’s a critical skill more than ever before.


For instance, there are the obvious geopolitical challenges, like Cuba's removal from the U.S. market and uncertainty in areas ranging from Chile to, once again, Turkey. But cruise execs say these types of challenges are inevitable, and the industry, like any successful business, adapts.

RCCL Chairman/CEO Richard Fain raised the notion of change in his keynote address at the recent Signature Travel Network Owners meeting, but part of his talk centered on making changes not because you have to, but because you should.

"We are experiencing a pace of change that is accelerating, and we have to adapt to it," said Fain. "A year ago I got into a conversation about plastic straws. It was actually with my daughter and she said, 'Do you have any idea how many plastic straws we use?'

"We got into the discussion and I sent a note to our purchasing manager. If you extrapolate out the plastic straws, it's a staggering number and that was really the first time I had even thought of it. Then we went back and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can change this.'"

What Fain found particularly interesting about this is just how quickly society has changed.

"I don't know about the rest of you, but a year ago I never even thought about plastic straws as being anything other than a convenience, and today nobody in their right mind is using plastic straws," he observed. "We find alternatives that work perfectly well and we need to adapt to these."