KarryOn News

We had so many questions for President and CEO of Uniworld Ellen Bettridge. In our Q&A with KARRYON, Ellen shares everything, from what inspires her, to tips for selling luxury cruises and Uniworld’s plans for 2019.

What is Uniworld doing to ensure onboard sustainability?

We work hard to reduce waste by not using water bottles, recycling and we avoid cardboard boxes by ensuring our food for the kitchens are delivered in reusable plastic tubs. By offering stainless steel bottles on board, we save over half a million plastic bottles from landfill.

In addition, we are partnering with Me to We on water projects around the world.

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Wellness on the water, what does that mean to Uniworld and to you?

Wellness at Uniworld is about offering choice. We provide options such as yoga classes, active excursions, spa treatments and a travelling light menu. We appreciate and acknowledge that every guest is unique and we strive to provide a bespoke experience. Our India itineraries in 2019 will also be enhanced with the introduction of a comprehensive wellness program centred around the destination’s ancient tradition and practice of yoga.

What would be your top 3 selling tips for selling luxury cruise

– Know the differences in the experiences.

– Ask what the customer wants out of their holiday.

– Ask which cruise line they sailed with or hotel that they stayed at last to get a better understanding of their travel style and preferences.

How have you seen the Cruise industry change since you started in the industry?

I started in the industry over 30 years ago. At that time there was just cruising now we have mass. There are so many different cruising styles including river, ocean and expedition along with varying levels of service on offer, including our incredible luxury river cruising. We also have many different river cruising destinations.

There used to be just Europe, but now we offer cruises in Egypt, India, Vietnam and China, and it’s these ‘Exotic’ destinations where we are seeing growth due to our incredibly high standards of luxury in these regions. At Uniworld, we are always striving to do better, we are never going to stop getting better, we will never stop improving.

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U by Uniworld is said to be innovating and a fresh approach to cruising for 21-45-year-olds. Why is this marketing important to you and what does innovation mean to you?

We are introducing a whole new generation to the ease, the simplicity and the excitement that is river cruising. But we’re going one step further and innovating the category by creating a space designed just for them. It’s so important to ensure we listen to our guests and anticipate their needs. That’s what drives our innovation within Uniworld.

What has sales and the interest been like from Australia so far?

It’s early days but the momentum and the excitement about what we are doing both for the industry and for this demographic is certainly building. Agents tell us they appreciate having a new experience to sell, which we love to hear.

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Are there new destinations on the cards for 2019? If so what are they? 

We have three new itineraries for 2019, all designed to reflect where our guests tell us they want to travel and ensuring our product is completely seamless. We also pay close attention to value and customer convenience. The 15-day Alluring Amsterdam & Vienna and 10-day Authentic Danube & Prague itineraries aboard the River Princess, will sail the Danube and offer optional two-night extensions in Vienna.

The third new itinerary, the 10-day Magnificent Moselle & Rhine aboard the River Queen, offers a unique perspective on this singular German wine-making region and allows guests to fly roundtrip via Frankfurt. We’ve also arranged bus and train transfers between the final port of Cologne and the Frankfurt airport, as well as luggage transfer service.

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Clearly, there is a passion for a cruise in your DNA, why is that and where does that come from?

Nothing in my career has ever surpassed the excitement I feel when I wake up in a new destination every morning and no other holiday can give me the diversity yet simplicity that river cruising can offer.

What inspires you within our industry and who inspires you?

No question, it’s my team that inspire me every day. Their passion for the brand and desire to meet our customer’s needs both on and off the ship is relentless. It’s an exciting place to be. I’m also inspired by the Tollman family, by what they’ve created and their commitment to the guest experience. We live by their motto “no request too large and no detail too small”

Where would you like to see Uniworld in 3-5 years?

Maintaining our position as the leader in luxury river cruising is my number one goal. We will continue to grow in a thoughtful and considered way using the lens of our customer’s desires as our guide.

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Working with Travel Agents, how does Uniworld make an impression to agents?

We treat our travel agents as true partners because we wouldn’t be where we are without them. We provide the tools and resources and education to make them successful. We also give them a customer for life.

How important is the Australian and New Zealand market to Uniworld and why?

Australia and New Zealand are increasingly important to Uniworld as they are now our number two source region for clients after North America. We want to ensure we continue to invest here because we enjoy the diversity that a global audience brings to the onboard experience.

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Your team here in Australia is full of energy and passion and are such an awesome inspiring bunch of people. How do you influence them and engaged with them?

We see Australia as an extension of our head office team in LA and work really closely with them to enable our global strategy, so in essence, they have the framework and our full support, but also the freedom to capture the local spirit. It works well.

What message would you share with a student entering the cruise industry for the first time?

If you love customer service and you’re inquisitive by nature, then a cruise is a great place to start – the opportunities are endless!

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What has been your most memorable trip?

In March of 2017, we inaugurated our stunningly beautiful S.S. Joie De Vivre, it was a perfect spring day, full of joy. The event was the beginning of an incredible week sailing from Paris to Caudebec through Normandy with our invited guests, there were so many ‘pinch me’ moments along the way.

If you could travel anywhere on any budget, where would it be and what would it look like?

It’s absolutely got to be our India and the Sacred Ganges experience. In 2019 we’re enhancing the itinerary too which I’m very excited about. Available on every sailing, the complimentary wellness program will be led by a certified and resident yogi, will celebrate the holistic health benefits of yoga with daily sessions introducing the different types of yoga. And it will also be accompanied by our new “Nutrition and Wellness Food” menu which has been developed especially for this program.  Everything will be organic and healthy, in addition to seeing India’s wondrous sites.

Is there anything more you’d love to know about Uniworld?