Sea Changes At Celebrity Under Lutoff-Perlo

Cruise Week

One year ago this week, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo became President & CEO of Celebrity Cruises. During that short time she has implemented numerous changes that provide a clear indicator to the line’s future direction.

In terms of consumer media coverage, the biggest story involving Celebrity this year was 
the hiring of the 1st American female captain for a major ship sailing in North American 
waters. When named captain of the Summit in August, 37 yr. old Kate McCue caught the attention of the consumer media.
On national TV news, she came across well: “Everyone has a stereotypical idea of a 
captain, and I’m missing some pounds,” she told CBS News. 
McCue seemed destined for the role. At age 12, she told her dad she wanted to be a cruise director. Her father, an engineer, responded, “You can do anything you want in the world, including drive this thing.”


As the 1st female chief executive for Celebrity Cruises, Lutoff-Perlo hopes McCue’s - and her own - example will inspire girls and women to pursue a similar path.

“I get to be the 1st woman President & CEO of Celebrity and I love this brand, and then we have Kate, our 1st woman American captain. I was so proud and honoured to be able to do that.”


One of Lutoff-Perlo’s main priorities is to do something fundamentally different about bringing more people to cruising. “I believe over the last 7 or 8 years we have not built up enough demand, we do not have enough differentiation.”
She believes the cruise industry, and Celebrity in particular, has a unique opportunity in the category of affluent vacation travel. “In the case of Celebrity, we are very clear that we aren’t luxury, we are modern luxury, we are different. I will continue building on the platform of modern luxury as we talk about the things we are going to do as we anticipate our spectacular Edge class coming in 2018.
“We have to carve out our unique place in this industry for our brand moving forward. That is critical for long-term financial performance and growing 1st-timer and 1st-to-brand guests.”
Lutoff-Perlo says clarifying and simplifying Celebrity’s messaging is a key priority. “One thing I learned coming back to Celebrity is how much support we have from the trade,” she says. “Well, we need to make things easier for them. We need to make agents stop having to explain Celebrity as much as some of you have to do.”

The line challenged its creative agency to come up with messaging that would “drive more consumers into travel agencies actually asking for Celebrity.” Key to that is clearly defining Celebrity’s ‘Modern Luxury’ positioning.

ExpediaCruiseShipCenters chief executive Matthew Eichhorst says the line is succeeding: “They’re finally giving some real meaning to modern luxury and what it stands for.”

Another high-profile change is the new ‘Go Big Go Better Go Best’ pricing strategy implemented this year, coming off the success of Celebrity’s innovative ‘1,2,3 Go!’ promotion.


“1,2,3 Go! was quite amazing in that Celebrity led the industry with overtly adding value into the cruise fare,” observes Eichhorst. “Ultimately, I’m a fan of ‘Big, Better, Best.’ Although I would say the challenge is it’s a little bit more complicated, I think it’s a better strategy in the long run because it gives consumers the choice to pick what they want.

He also sees progress in Celebrity’s marketing to consumers. “I’ve been able to see a little bit of what they’re doing as far as telling their story a little better. Solstice put them on the map and we’re really quite excited about the new directions they’re taking and with the Edge class of ships coming up in 2018.”

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