Vice President of Brand Management for Emerald Waterways Lisa Norton has been in the travel industry for years. In her current role for Emerald Waterways, she is responsible for the growth of Emerald Waterways’ footprint in the U.S and Canadian market. She is often on the road meeting with agents to develop and grow relationships for her brand in the travel agent community. Lisa works tirelessly each day to raise awareness for Emerald Waterways while also making relationships and connections with other cultures. To learn more about Lisa Norton and Emerald Waterways, continue on below.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You have been in the travel industry for many years. What about travel drew you in, and inspired you to start a career in the field?
Lisa Norton (LN): I always had a love of travel and making connections with other cultures. I spent a summer in Japan as an exchange student while in high school, and from there my love of travel grew.
TRO: Your career started in Product Development for Trans National Travel. You have also held Executive Assistant and Executive Vice President of Marketing positions. Are there any tips or tricks you learned from your previous positions that have carried over and helped you in your current position?
LN: Every time I started a new job, I started as an Executive assistant. This is the best way to learn what your executive does, which is more far reaching than being in an entry level role in one department. The more invaluable you make yourself, the better your chance of advancement within an organization. Of course in many cases, staying in the EA role is challenging and fulfilling beyond belief as well!
TRO: You hold the title of Vice President of Brand Management for Emerald Waterways, a brand within Scenic Tours. Can you tell us what your day-to-day duties look like? Is each day different from the last?
LN: Day to day duties in a lean organization means juggling many balls at the same time. I’m a problem solver, a marketing strategist, a sales person, a customer service sounding board, and the person who needs to make sure that all roads lead to increased awareness for the brand and in turn, increased sales. No two days are the same – one week I may be in the office in meetings all week and the next I may be on the road, representing the brand at a trade show or at a product conference, helping to shape what the next year’s product offerings might be.
TRO: Currently you are responsible for growing the Emerald Waterways footprint in both the US and Canada. Can you tell us a little about that process? Have there been any extraordinarily hard or easy hurdles to overcome?
LN: It has been harder than I ever thought to break into a new market. The budgets are tight, you’re not a known entity, you’re battling giants with deep pockets so it really is boots on the ground, introducing yourself and Emerald Waterways at the same time. Aside from working at Trans National Travel, my career was more B2C focused so it really was learning a whole new way of selling travel, working with the Travel Agency community, gaining their trust and slowly but surely building partnerships.
TRO: You also oversee both the call center and group sales. You must be a very busy woman! How do you manage to balance so many different positions and responsibilities all while constantly trying to grow Emerald Waterways?
LN: We have recently hired a Senior Director of the Call Center, Michael Moseman, who has taken the call center and group sales off my plate. This allows me to focus on continued growth of Emerald Waterways. Of course I’m still heavily involved with group sales, as it is a core piece of our business, but this is now focused on getting new groups signed up or re-signing repeat business versus managing the staff.
TRO: You get to travel frequently within your position, meeting with agents to develop relationships for your brand in the travel agent community. Can you tell us more about your brand, specifically?
LN: Emerald Waterways is owned by the Scenic group and is the premium river cruise brand, offering fully inclusive value on deluxe river ships. We have been in operation with our own purpose built ships since 2014, with seven star-ships sailing on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Moselle, Douro and Rhone rivers. Our first year in operation we were selected by cruise critic as the best new river ships in Europe, and in 2015 and 2016 we were honored with the Best River line for Value. We include so much that it’s easy to see why we were given this acknowledgement – from transfers; included tours; beer, wine & soft drinks with lunch and dinner; included EmeraldActive and EmeraldPlus excursion to all gratuities on and off the ship, it truly is an unbeatable value. Our state of the art ships offer a contemporary design with larger than average staterooms, an indoor/outdoor pool that converts to a cinema or cocktail/meeting space, massage and wellness options, and sundeck with miniature golf and walking track. There are many ways to see what sets Emerald Waterways apart from the competition.
TRO: Of all the places you have traveled, do you have a favorite? If so, where?
LN: Trick question? My favorite place that I’ve ever traveled to was Argentina, for the pure beauty of the country. I’d love to go back someday and explore more.
TRO: Is there a location you have never been, but have always wanted to go? If so, where?
LN: I’d love to go to Alaska and explore its natural wonders, by land and by sea.
TRO: What can we expect to see this year from Emerald Waterways? Anything especially exciting on the horizon?
LN: We do have some exciting things happening that I can’t reveal at this time, so you’ll have to stay tuned! We do however have some new itineraries that we launched for 2018 on the Rhine, allowing for more in-depth discovery of the towns and villages, like Baden Baden and Strasbourg on our Majestic Rhine tour which sails from Frankfurt to Basel or Hoorn, Edam and Antwerp on our Charms of Holland & Belgium tour. For 2018 we announced a charter to Russia and expanded departures to Vietnam on the chartered Mekong Navigator. In 2019, we will be offering the Irrawaddy on the exclusively chartered Irrawaddy Explorer. We are expanding our EmeraldActive options beyond the hiking and biking tours that we had this year, including yoga on the sundeck and a canoe excursion in Portugal. We’re focused on giving more options to travelers in order to make Emerald Waterways a great choice provided by their travel professional.