This interview with Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service for Royal Caribbean International, is the second in a series I'm conducting with cutting-edge sales leaders from some of the world's most prestigious sales organizations.
In this and other interviews in the series, I'll be talking with sales leaders managing some of the most successful sales teams to gain insights into the processes, strategies, and other tricks of the trade they rely on to foster continued success.
If you missed my first interview with Autodesk's Steve Blum, you can catch up on that here.
Read on to find out how Royal Caribbean International leads one of the most successful sales teams in the world and the sales strategies and tactics that Freed and other leaders within the company use to get results.
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1. What are the biggest strengths of your sales team or sales process (what processes or strategies set your company apart)?
Intuitive service is our biggest strength, without a doubt. It's in Royal Caribbean International's DNA every leader, department and employee.
Our sales organization, including the dedicated team members manning our call centers and the relationships with our travel agent partners around the country, is rooted in face-to-face, two-way communication. As large as we are, we continue to make every effort to make that 1:1 time to support all of our partners in achieving success in the business.
Even as the largest sales organization in the industry, we keep an open line of communication, from our headquarters in Miami to our outside sales team. It's vital to share best sales practices and cross-pollinate with innovative ideas, successes and learnings across the board.
2. What's your top goal for 2016 in improving your company's sales processes and outcomes? What improvements do you anticipate that will enable you to achieve these goals?
We have many goals, and of the highest priority is to continue enabling our travel agent partners to grow their businesses and introduce more new-to-cruise vacationers to the industry and Royal Caribbean, specifically.
Consistently enhancing and strengthening our face-to-face interaction approach are the award-winning programs and tools we've created and updated just for travel agents, allowing them to stay up to date with the latest and greatest about Royal Caribbean; market and promote themselves and the brand; and in turn, secure more clients and expand their portfolio.
From our travel agent program and hub, LoyalToYouAlways.com, to University of Wow our online-based training program, and exclusive updates from me via social media, monthly newsletters, and daily tips travel agents have this all at their fingertips.
3. Do your marketing and sales teams interact daily, weekly, monthly, or less frequently? If you had to name one key focal area in which greater marketing-sales collaboration would benefit your bottom-line results, what would it be?
As much as we emphasize a constant flow of communication, our teams including marketing, public relations, operations, and more interact daily, and in many ways are joined at the hip.
Having even more time in the day would make for greater collaboration. We would be able to communicate even more frequently in the midst of the constant pursuit of exceeding our respective goals contributing to the brand's overall success.
4. Who is responsible for producing sales content within your organization (sales, marketing, dedicated content team) and why is it structured that way?
All of the above, absolutely; and we've strategically tailored our content for each of our unique audiences.
Materials, including visuals, messaging and social media, for our sales channels are created by our in-house team to communicate exactly who we're speaking to in the right way our outside sales teams or travel agents, whether they focus on family, new-to-cruise or group and business incentive travel. Marketing's teams produce and deliver their consumer-driven content. We have the trifecta sales, marketing, and dedicated content creators.
5. Is the importance of content in sales and marketing increasing, decreasing, or remaining relatively stagnant within your company, and why do you think this is the case?
The importance of all content most certainly is increasing because society now has an incredible number of ways in which content is used, repurposed and reinvented. Whether via the Internet or even direct mail, there are more avenues we can use and new ways to use these vehicles now more than ever.
More About Vicki Freed
Vicki Freed is Royal Caribbean International’s senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Service.
Freed oversees the company's sales force, the largest sales team in the cruise industry. She also manages Royal Caribbean International’s Trade Support and Service division, which includes Reservations, Group Sales, and Customer Service as well as the cruise line’s Consumer Outreach division.
Freed joined the company after 29 years with Carnival Cruise Lines, where she spent the last 15 years as senior vice president of Sales and Marketing. Prior to that, Freed served in a variety of sales management positions within the cruise line. From 1998 to 2000, Freed also served as the first and only female chairman of the Cruise Line International Association, the marketing and travel agent training arm of the North American cruise industry.
During her tenure in the Cruise Industry, Freed has earned numerous awards and accolades for outstanding achievement in sales and marketing, including being named Travel Trade magazine’s “Executive of the Year,” becoming the first female executive to receive that honor. Under Freed’s sales leadership, Royal Caribbean International has been the recipient of the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Award for Best Sales & Service and the TravelAge West Wave Award for Best Travel Agent Support for six years in a row.
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Freed serves on the board of the Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options (JAFCO) and she is a trustee of the United Way of Miami-Dade County. Previously, she served on the Florida Commission on Tourism for ten years, the board of directors for the South Florida Chapter of Make-a-Wish Foundation for nine years and the board of directors for the Association for Travel Marketing Executives.
Freed earned a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Colorado. She also holds a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) designation.