Tag Archives: Stacy-Shaw

Interview with Stacy Shaw – Virgin Voyages

“I do work pretty hard.

It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.” Stacy Shaw

Stacy Shaw is the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When Stacy and I met at the #Shiptease event in Genoa last year, I asked if she would answer some questions for my Cruise People series. Thankfully she agreed, so lets find out more about Stacy Shaw.

How did you come to work in the Cruise Industry and what was your first job?

After grad school, I moved from West Virginia to Florida… I was pretty tired of winter weather and wanted to be near my sister. We had been prepped by the Dean of Business & Economics, that it may take time to find a job. So I reached out to a recruiter as soon as I arrived, with the idea that I would wait tables for a while and enjoy some down time.

He sent me for an interview right away for an Accounting position that happened to be at a cruise line. I didn’t intend to start working in a office so quickly but it sounded pretty glamorous (the cruise line part), so I changed my plans. I lasted in that particular job for about six months before I got a little bored (sorry, Accountants) but it was the start to what would become a 23-year (and counting) career in travel and hospitality.

If you could have chosen anything else as a career what would it be?

I love animals so if I was better at science, I might have been a veterinarian. I always knew I would work in some sort of business, I just didn’t know what. Before I started in this industry, I had traveled to five states … never once out of my time zone.

I’ve now visited many states in all US times zones and more than 65 countries. I have found the education that comes from learning about other people and cultures invaluable and I think it made me a better person. I’m very happy with how things worked out!

Stacy with Boy George at the Virgin Voyages Shiptease

What makes Virgin Voyages stand out from other cruises?

People often ask which cruise line we will be most like and I find it impossible to answer that question. Our goal is to be unlike any other … to create a new category and be the only one in it. We’ve looked more to cool, hip hotel and land experiences for inspiration, so I think you’ll find it very easy to see what makes us stand out … when we can talk about that.

As VP of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, what is an average day like for you?

We’re a start-up so every day is pretty busy and very different. I try to learn something about Virgin or the other Virgin companies however and whenever I can. We have some great resources in the company who have worked for other Virgin brands, so I’m like a sponge around them. For now, we’ve been putting a strong foundation in place.

So I’ve been working on things like sales and distribution strategy, org charts and operating budgets … thinking about how we can be irresistible to our partners! I’ve also been working on finding a rock star leadership team in sales so there’s been a lot of Skype calls and interviews. We’re so fortunate to have a lot of interest when we post our gigs and we’re very focused on finding the perfect fit for every role.

What was your last holiday?

I tend to do more mini-holidays or weekend getaways than long vacations. I love exploring new places, most recently I went to Nashville for the weekend. It was great … the food, the nightlife, the music, the service, the people … I can’t wait until Virgin Hotels Nashville opens. I’m definitely going back.

I also did my first river cruise last year over New Years with a group of friends and loved that. Prague to Budapest on the Danube with AMA Waterways. We visited four countries that I hadn’t been to before (Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Austria) … all amazing. I would like to do another river cruise to the wine regions in France. And I love going to Spain any chance I get.

Have you got your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

I do. I’m going on a safari in South Africa with the same group of friends this summer. We’ll also spend a few days in Cape Town and visit some beautiful wineries. I did a safari in Kenya years ago but it was a site inspection with clients. Still, it was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever taken but I’m very excited to do it again with people I love. That will be really special and a lot of fun.

Stacy hosts VIP Travel Partners at the Keel Laying Ceremony in Genoa.

Your job role must require organisation, focus and a lot of energy? Do you have any lifestyle / personal management tips you can give us?

I feel very lucky to be in an industry that I love and working for Virgin is a dream come true for me. It’s hard to think about what I do as “work”. I get paid to do the most amazing things and to think about ways that our company can make the world a better place. Don’t get me wrong, I do work pretty hard. It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.

At Virgin Voyages, we’re creating something really special and I’m surrounded by the most creative, inspiring group of people. It’s hard not to be excited about anything I do in that environment. I would say the things that have helped me most in my career is a never-ending desire to learn, genuinely caring about the people involved with our business, always delivering on commitments, being respectful and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done without hesitation. Oh, and coffee, that helps a lot with focus and energy!

What are your hobbies?

I read and research a lot. More articles and historical info than novels … most everything online. I like to start my day with time to read (and drink coffee). I love learning new things and I like to understand a variety of viewpoints. Obviously, I love to travel and I do as much of that as I can. I’m interested in languages. I speak Spanish fairly well and know bits of Italian and French that I’ve picked up through travel. I find that people genuinely appreciate an attempt to speak to them in their language even if it isn’t perfect. I also enjoy trying local food and drinks wherever I am … always looking for a great restaurant.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Well, I think I’ve got the career and travel things covered. And I’ve met Richard Branson. So I guess the only thing left is an epic love story.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking their first cruise?

I would say take a voyage instead. 🙂

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Scarlet Lady Keel Laying Ceremony

After a month long countdown to the #ShipTease, I still can’t believe the day I had at the keel laying ceremony with Virgin Voyages. Thank goodness I invested my time and money in going to the event. Now I feel I have a much clearer picture of the vision intended for the new cruise line.

Somehow I ended up in a VIP group hosted by Stacy Shaw, Vice President of Sales and Business Development. We were taken to a conference room at the Fincantieri offices. CEO and President of Virgin Voyages, Tom McAlpin greeted us and asked us if we wanted a glass of champagne. Silly question. With that the sliding doors rolled apart. There stood Sir Richard donning an officers jacket, wheeling a trolley loaded with champagne on ice. What a wonderful surprise!

Sir Richard Branson serves champagne to Travel Partners at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, to celebrate the keel getting laid in Genoa.

Working With Travel Agents

There has been much speculation as to whether Virgin Voyages will be working with Travel Partners on this, and although nothing has been announced, Sir Richard did say that he had been told by Tom that the group in the room (apart from me) were very important and that he had to make a good impression. With that, he got down on his knees and pretended to kiss the feet of one of the guests. Take from that what you will, but why spend all that money on flying people from the US over to Genoa, putting them up in a five star hotel and plying them with champagne, if you have no intention of working with them?

Over 18’s Only

So the next big thing that has everyone talking, is the over 18 policy. Although it has been reported as adult only, Virgin Voyages is keen to use the term Adult By Design. Why? Because the term “adult only” conjures up the image of a strip club, and that could not be further from the vision of a holistic, sophisticated, sanctuary at sea that offers a place for rejuvenation, relaxation and exploration.

It’s understandable that some people may feel a bit disappointed that they can’t take their kids onboard. I felt the same at first. When I travel for pleasure I take my 4 year old son with me. An over 18 policy makes it challenging for me to go on one. But then when I started to imagine the reality of a cruise with no kids onboard, it made me think that actually I would LOVE the option to go on a cruise without kids. If I can’t do it now, then it will be something to look forward to, but think of all those people who CAN go.

In fact this morning I saw comments in a Facebook fan group for one of the major cruise lines, where people were saying they thought it was a great idea, and wished the cruise line they were “loyal” to, would do the same. Virgin said they had taken the decision based on customer feedback, so clearly there is a demand for it. Whether those people are existing cruisers or existing Virgin Holidays customers, I don’t know, but either way they are definitely onto something.

Does It Look Like A Ship?

Well did the first car look like a horse and cart? This is NOT a cruise ship. Forget everything you/we know of cruising as it is today. Virgin Voyages’ First Ladyship is more of a mega super yacht with it’s smoked glass and silvery-grey hull. The cruise line are also declaring their commitment to the happiness of their crew, with better accommodation than any other cruise ship. I wonder if they will include gratuities in their fares (ooh don’t mention gratuities!)

Clime Onboard A Cleaner Ship

I want to talk about how these ships are going to be so much more energy efficient than ships out there at the moment. I want to tell you how the Swedish company Climeon have found a way to make these ships save masses of CO2. All I know is that they have discovered a way to turn waste hot water into energy and that it may be a good time to buy shares in Climeon. This video will give you a better idea of what they have designed.

What A Night!

To those of you that follow my blog you will know that this event was my first official press gig. That could be a problem because I don’t think there is likely to be anything like this again, well at least for another year, and I will probably be banned from that one after they see my video.

All I want to say is, what a way to start! I hope you have enjoyed reading about it and that you will take a look at the video I have put together in an attempt to capture the vibe.

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