Susan Shultz, with over 20 years of experience in the marketing and sales sector, is the current Director of Sales for American Cruise Lines. Not only does she spend time on location and as an active participant in trade shows with her position, but Susan also visits with the company’s agents monitoring and encouraging them along the way. With a passion for travel since college, Susan Shultz loves all 35 of the different itineraries offered by American Cruise Lines.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You have two decades of service in marketing and sales, half of that time being with American Cruise Lines as Director of Sales. What inspired you to enter the travel industry? Has travel always been something you have been interested in?
Susan Shultz (SS): I really fell in love with travel studying abroad in London during college and from there I had the travel bug. I also lived in Brazil for a year and I am so fortunate to indulge my love of travel every day through my work with American Cruise Lines. Who does not love great travel?
TRO: You got started at the Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, Michigan as a member of their management team. Was there anything specifically that you learned in this position that has helped you in your current position?
SS: After college I was fortunate to get into the Marketing Management Training Program at Whirlpool for 9 months. This was a great opportunity to work one-on-one with top management in marketing, sales and customer service. The Whirlpool training program has been a huge help to me throughout my travel career.
TRO: At one point in your career you held the position of District Supervisor for Consumer Affairs. Has holding that position benefited you in your current position? How similar (or different) is it compared to working as Director of Sales?
SS: It sounds clichéd but I firmly believe the customer always comes first. Working as District Supervisor of Consumer Affairs in Boston, was a great opportunity to truly understand that lesson early on. In the travel industry, and Sales in particular, the interests and needs of both Travel Agents and Guests are paramount to success. What matters most to them is always at the forefront of my mind.
TRO: What do your day-to-day responsibilities as Director of Sales look like? Is each day a little different from the last? Do you travel often with the position? Give us a run down!
SS: First of all I love my job! I come to work thinking I will be doing one thing and end up doing 10 different things. This is what makes my job at American Cruise Lines so invigorating. I also do travel quite a bit. You can often find me on one of our 35 different itineraries, or visiting our travel agents and doing trade shows.
TRO: You served on the executive board of the Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance for 10 years, playing an active role chairing the marketing committee. Can you tell us more about the Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance?
SS: The Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance has since dissolved but now CLIA is very instrumental in the Small Ship Cruising sector. I believe it is very important for small ship cruise lines to have an outlet where they can come together, advocate, educate and promote the awareness of the industry. It is especially important for the American river cruising market which is really taking off and providing travel options just as exciting and fulfilling as any in European river cruising. Our company, American Cruise Lines in particular is revolutionizing the American river cruise industry with both its new modern ship designs and uniquely curated itineraries.
TRO: Is there any knowledge or advice you can give to anyone looking to get into the Sales sector of the cruise industry? What are some of your favorite aspects of the position?
SS: The best advice I could give to anyone entering into selling cruises would be to continually educate yourself. Know your client and know your product. Many cruise lines offer webinars and links on their own websites for travel agents to gain information and understanding. There is a lot of product out there and its continually changing. At American Cruise Lines we have our own travel agent portal whose first and foremost goal is to educate the travel agent community and help them be successful. Check it out!
One of my favorite aspects of my job is working with both Travel Agents and guests. Understanding your clients and the myriad of cruise options available is the most important part–putting people on the right cruise for them is one of the best keys for success in this business.
TRO: Working in the travel industry must give you some wanderlust. Is there anywhere you have always wanted to cruise to? Why? Do you have a favorite repeat destination or cruise?
SS: I have always wanted to do a small ship cruise in Australia. It is on my bucket list for sure. Small ship cruising always offers that up-close and personalized experience which I really enjoy. I don’t have a favorite repeat destination because I always want to experience something new.
TRO: What would you say are the most popular cruises in regards to their sales? Do you have a favorite cruise to sell offered by American Cruise Lines?
SS: I truly love them ALL! American Cruise Lines has 35 itineraries to 30 States. Our cruises are like candy…they are all so different and unique that you want to experience them all. And many of our guests do just that—we have one of the highest re-booking rates in the entire cruise industry.
TRO: What can we expect to see from American Cruise Lines this year? Any exciting news you can tell us?
SS: We have two new ship builds entering the market in 2018. The most exciting of which is the New Modern Riverboat, a chic modern-styled river cruise boat like the ones seen in European river cruising. The Modern Riverboat series will be such a great surprise for all travel agents selling U.S. river cruises. A totally new option for the American river cruising market as a whole. If you are a travel agent that is yet to sell a river cruise in the U.S., please take note of the new ships that American Cruise Lines offers. You don’t need to go to Europe or beyond to enjoy an amazing cruise experience–American Cruise Lines has them right in your own back yard.