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Luxury cruise insights: Steve Odell, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Karryon Luxury catches up with Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newly appointed Chief Sales Officer (and consummate luxury cruise expert), Steve Odell, to hear what’s in store at the 'world’s most luxurious cruise line'.

Karryon Luxury catches up with Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newly appointed Chief Sales Officer (and consummate luxury cruise expert), Steve Odell, to hear what’s in store at the ‘world’s most luxurious cruise line’.

Steve Odell is a busy man. Since taking up his new role as Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ (RSSC) global Chief Sales Officer in January, he has been commuting between Australia and head office in Miami, finding an apartment in Miami Beach’s SoFi (south of Fifth) neighbourhood and packing up the Sydney house he shares with partner Jay – before they relocate at the beginning of April.

He’s busy, but also “very excited” about returning to Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Following a company restructure and early retirement from his former position as Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific in December 2022, he and Jay made the most of Steve’s 12-month non-compete period and travelled extensively. 

And what a difference a year makes.

Regent Seven Seas Voyager in Sydney Harbour
Seven Seas Voyager in Sydney Harbour

Having visited family in the Philippines and UK, sailed on the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s Evrima in the Caribbean, taken first-time expedition cruises to the Kimberley and Antarctica with Silversea – with whom Steve held senior positions in the UK and Australia for many years – an invitation to sail onboard Seven Seas Grandeur‘s christening cruise out of Miami led to a totally unexpected opportunity.

Harry Sommer, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and RSSC, and Andrea de Marco, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, offered Steve the newly created role of Chief Sales Officer and within the space of three days on the ship, the deal was done.

“I had been looking at some other options, but this made perfect sense,” Steve said. “I know the people, Regent is a fantastic brand, I know the luxury travel business – it’s not just about cruise, of course – and having had a year off to take stock of my life, I am really happy to be back.”

Benefits of living and working overseas

Miami Beach Florida_credit Antonio Cuellar_Regent Seven Seas Cruises_Steve Odell
Miami Beach, Florida. Credit: Antonio Cuellar.

Steve believes that living in a new country helps you grow as a person. 

“I’m really looking forward to living in the US because although I’ve visited hundreds of times and am very familiar with Miami, it’s different when you live and work in a new country and absorb the local culture.

“I’ve lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and it’s now been 21 years since I moved to Australia,” he adds. “Asia was a big influence on my life and who I am, because I believe Asian culture teaches you a lot about dealing with people on an individual basis with courtesy and respect.”

New role, new perspectives

Compass Rose on Seven Seas Grandeur
Compass Rose on Seven Seas Grandeur.

As well as having years of experience at the pointy end of the luxury cruise sector, Steve also brings insights gleaned from his recent travels to his new role. 

“When you work for one company, you’re in the house and looking out of the window,” he says. “The opportunity to experience other companies’ products and learn who does what well has been invaluable. 

“We ticked off a lot of bucket-list experiences last year – Le Meurice in Paris, Nomad in London, the Eden in Rome – as well as cruising with several different lines. The expense of air travel, taxis here and there, luxury hotel accommodation and eating extremely well brought home to me what amazing value Regent’s all-inclusive cruises really are. 

“And that’s the message we are sending to the travel advisor community. We need to go beyond our ‘cruise bubble’ and look at attracting potential clients who are now taking high-end safaris, expensive skiing holidays and stay at the world’s best hotels.”

He says it is crucial for travel advisors to know and define the differences between luxury brands, and to communicate “even more clearly than we’re doing now” the concept of luxury cruising as a value proposition second to none.

Seven Seas Grandeur Regent Suite Bathroom
The Regent Suite’s Master Bathroom on Seven Seas Grandeur features an in-suite spa experience.

“Regent is about classic style. We’re not in the expedition business; we provide contemporary, elegant ships, a sophisticated environment, supremely comfortable accommodation, superb service, world-class wining and dining – but what really differentiates Regent is our level of inclusivity.”

The entry of luxury hotel groups into the superyachting space is something Steve sees as a positive for the luxury cruise industry overall. They operate with massive databases and are introducing new and often younger travellers to the luxe life on the ocean wave. 

“It’s another avenue in the evolution of luxury cruising, and I think that is good for all of us.”

How Regent Elevate works for travel advisors

Seven Seas Mariner in Alaska_Regent Seven Seas
Seven Seas Mariner in Alaska.

As Chief Sales Officer, Steve now reports directly to RSSC’s President Andrea de Marco and his focus for at least the next 12 months will be predominantly on the North American market. 

However, the new Regent Elevate program for travel advisors is global and as reported here was recently rolled out in Australia and New Zealand by RSSC’s Vice President Sales & General Manager Asia Pacific, Lisa Pile. 

It is designed to provide “unrivalled” (a favourite Regent word) training, support and incentives that will enable advisors to grow their own businesses while delivering “exceptional value” to clients. 

The new RSSC University offers in-depth courses that earn advisors CLIA Accreditation Points on completion and Visa gift cards for completing two of the three degrees. The user-friendly online marketing asset portal provides a wealth of market research including profiles, sales tools, promotions and overall marketing strategies. 

As Steve says, it’s a people business. “Relationships are key, and relationships with our travel partners are absolutely, totally key to how successful we will all be.

“When you thrive, we thrive, and that is why we are dedicated to empowering you with the tools and rewards you need to excel in the ever-evolving luxury cruise market.” 

For more information, visit rssc.com