Last week, agents learned that Carnival Corporation has hired Bob Dickinson, former president and CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines, as a consultant to examine relationships between the Carnival Corp. brands - Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line - and the travel distribution system.
It was a move generally praised by agents, some of whom commented on our Facebook page about the candor and strong management perspective that Dickinson brings to the situation.
Following today's Princess press conference onboard the new Royal Princess, Howard Frank, vice chairman and chief operating officer, Carnival Corporation was asked by Travel Agent about Dickinson's new role.
Will what Dickinson uncovers and ideas he develops be adopted by the individual brands, per the parent company's wishes? Or, will the entire process be more voluntary - letting the individual brands make that decision?
Not surprisingly given the corporate personality of Carnival Corporation, it appears that the brands will work with Dickinson, seek ways to find new perspective, listen to his advice and build on any research results, but that any decisions for implementing new policies or programs will be up to the brands.
Frank said that, frankly, he didn't think the process and how the relationship will work has been fully vetted yet. He said that an internal memo was leaked last week, thus bringing Dickinson's new gig into the public eye a bit sooner than the company had planned.
Yet, Frank made it clear that he's fully supportive of what Dickinson brings to the table in marketing expertise and in his abilities to evaluate and initiate research, and use that in helping the brands enhance their relationships with the agency community.
He said he's been thinking of Dickinson in such a consulting role for some time. Dickinson recently left the Carnival Corp. board, making the new consulting gig a good option.
Howard said the consultant's role "evolved from the brands themselves," making it clear that the individual brands value Dickinson's advice and counsel.
When asked about Dickinson's role in impacting Princess' agent policies and relationships, Jan Swartz, Princess' executive vice president, sales, marketing and customer services, praised Dickinson's strong reputation within the industry and with agents, and said her organization will "take advantage" of his expertise and listen to his ideas.
She envisions that each brand will likely utilize or take advantage of those specific ideas or suggestions that work for that brand.
Over the next few weeks, Frank indicated that the parties will be meeting to formulate the best way to move forward. How the process works, what form it takes and what the final results will be are still a bit up in the air.
One thing is sure, though, Frank, said with enthusiasm: "Bob lives this business."