Lisa Norton is Vice President of Brand Management for Emerald Waterways North America. Lisa joined Emerald Waterways in October of 2014. Prior to joining Emerald Waterways, Lisa was SVP of Marketing at Vantage Deluxe World Travel, and before that she was Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Grand Circle Travel. Lisa began her travel career as an administrative assistant at Boston based charter operator Trans National Travel. While there she expanded her responsibilities to include group sales and marketing.
Lisa left TNT in 1990 and joined Grand Circle Travel as a Product Administrator. During the course of her career at GCT she played various roles, from buyer to circulation, sales, and marketing. Lisa is very excited to help build Emerald Waterways into a key player in the river cruise market in North America.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What inspired you to pursue a career in the travel industry?
Lisa Norton (LN): My love of travel really started when I spent a summer as an exchange student in Fukuoka, Japan, where I attended the Futubaya high school and lived with a host family. It opened my eyes to other cultures and made me want to see more of the world.
TRO: Before you joined Emerald Waterways, you worked with many other travel companies in a wide variety of departments. How did these varied positions prepare and shape you for your current position as Vice President of Brand Management?
LN: My vast and varied experience helped me learn what it takes to make a successful travel company grow. It starts with the product – we all know that travelers have a bucket list and there are many companies that can fulfill the basic needs, but it’s the great companies that go above and beyond to provide them an unforgettable experience at unsurpassed value. Most importantly, it’s knowing who your customer is and how to fulfill their needs, which is where my experience with circulation and marketing comes in handy. All of these elements are critical to introducing and growing a new brand in the North American river cruise market.
TRO: How has Emerald Waterways grown and changed since you started?
LN: I’ve only been here with Emerald Waterways since October but already I see a difference. At trade events, people are now coming up to our booth saying, “Tell me about Emerald Waterways – I’ve heard of you but now I want to learn more”. We still have a very small staff dedicated to Emerald Waterways, but we’re growing and making strides quickly. We launched two ships in 2014 and won the Cruise Critics Editors’ Pick Award for Best New River Ships in 2014. In 2015 we will be launching two more ships and another in 2016. We’re making our entry into the SE Asia market in 2016 and introducing some new itineraries in Europe as well. It’s very exciting to see how quickly it’s growing and I’m excited about the future.
TRO: What business principles does Emerald Waterways rely on?
LN: Delivering a deluxe product on a five-star ship with great value and consistent delivery of service. When you take one Emerald Waterways trip on one ship and then take another on a different ship, you can expect the same beautiful ship and the same high level of service.
TRO: What sets Emerald Waterways apart from other European river cruise companies?
LN: We have many great exclusive features not found on other river ships. One of the most unique features is our indoor/outdoor pool with comfortable seating, a bar and coffee station, making a nice place to sit, whether you want to swim or not. In ideal weather, the roof retracts so guests can enjoy the outdoors, but in less-than-pleasant weather the roof closes and the pool is heated. On some evenings the water is drained out of the pool, the floor raised, and the area is turned into a cinema where we show current movies, old classics, videos of musical performances, etc. It’s also a great area if you’re part of a group where you can hold a special reception, meeting, etc. We have many ways to stay active onboard the ship – in addition to the pool we have a fitness center, a walking track, and a putting green. If you like to pamper yourself (and who doesn’t?) we have a massage room and a salon. We have bikes on board that can be used while in port. We include transfers, shore excursions, beer, wine, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and all gratuities – check all those off your checklist and you’ll see why Emerald Waterways is the best value in deluxe river cruising.
TRO: What kind of an experience can travel agents expect when they choose to work with Emerald Waterways?
LN: They can expect a relationship where our agents work with them to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients, who will be extremely satisfied when they return from an Emerald Waterways cruise. We have just greatly expanded our call center so the experience should be timely and efficient.
TRO: What is your favorite part of your job?
LN: Learning another side of the business, working with agency partners is the most interesting part of my job right now! I’ve already met a lot of great agents and look forward to working with them. I’m also excited by the expansion plans for the future and helping Emerald Waterways grow.
TRO: What is your favorite travel memory or destination?
LN: My favorite travel memory has to be of Morocco. I’ve been there a few times and each time was unique. It’s such a fascinating, diverse country, with welcoming, hospitable people. Sleeping in the Sahara desert and waking before dawn to climb the Merzouga Dunes is something I’ll never forget.
TRO: What can travel agents expect to see from Emerald Waterways in the future?
LN: More ships, more destinations, more choice . . . all with incredible value.
To learn more about Lisa Norton and Emerald Waterways, visit their website at www.emeraldwaterways.com.