Steve Born is chief marketing officer for Group Voyagers, the company that markets and sells the Globus family of brands (Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways) worldwide.
Born began his marketing career outside the travel industry more than 30 years ago, and for the past 20 of them, has been responsible for guiding all marketing and call center initiatives for the Globus family. He spends his days bringing consumers the experience of travel–one of his true passions–and he could not be happier. A self-proclaimed people person, Born thrives on the daily interactions he has with travel industry colleagues, as well as with his staff–a group of individuals he fondly compares to NASA engineers; a team which now extends worldwide to global markets. With the help of this “rocket science” crew, Born has helped grow the Globus family from two to four brands, including the introduction of Monograms and Avalon Waterways.
Prior to joining the company, Born worked as vice president at Karsh and Hagan Communications, Inc., in Denver, Colo., overseeing the account services department. Born received a B.A. in advertising from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he graduated cum laude. When not “talking travel,” he and his wife spend their time enjoying Denver while chasing the lives of their children, both college students, hoping one day to tackle the huge bucket list they’ve collected over the years.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Hello, Steve. How is your new year going so far?
Steve Born (SB): The new year (and a new decade) is always refreshing — an opportunity to look at all of those white pages in your calendar and decide what you’re going to write in them, and how to make a difference with the new days ahead.
TRO: You describe yourself as a “people person”, which is important for maintaining connections in the travel industry. What do you think are the best traits of a good conversation that helps solidify business relations?
SB: Everyone’s at their best when they’re comfortable. Making a genuine effort to make those around me comfortable has always served me well. That can take many forms, depending on your relationship with the person, but honesty, sincerity, empathy and a splash of humor can all do wonders. I try to make every interaction a bright spot in that person’s day – even if the subject matter isn’t that great. I don’t always hit the mark, but I think the effort is appreciated.
TRO: Managing teams for multiple brands can be complicated, but you’ve had 20 years of experience to fortify your skills. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in dealing with the organization of people to a common goal?
SB: This might come off as a marketing class session, but having a clear, easily communicated view of the brand purpose, personality and position has to be the starting point. What’s the purpose our brand solves out in the world? How do we make the customer’s and our partner’s lives better via each brand? Once everyone has that clear understanding, it picks up momentum.
TRO: The Globus family of brands includes Avalon Waterways, known for their river cruises on the most legendary rivers around the world. Which destinations are the most popular, and what makes it stand out from other cruise companies?
SB: When we started Avalon 16 years ago, we had no choice but to be different. There was already an established player in river cruising, so that seat was taken. What challenged us then, and motivates us today, is that we have to be different in order to thrive — to be the alternative to the ordinary. And the cool part is that’s not just marketing. It’s the brand overall, from the reservation, to the ships themselves, to the guest services on board and everything in between.
And the difference? We’re not a river cruise. We’re a vacation which happens to take place on the world’s most interesting rivers.
That means everything is built around the guest. That inspired our ship design, where we sacrificed cabins in order to create bigger staterooms with our innovative Panorama Suite® design — the only one with beds facing the wall-to-wall panoramic windows. That pushed us to creating a selection of excursion options while in port that our guests can freely choose as they go, depending on their style and their mood. And constructing our cruises in a way where cruisers can essentially build their own cruise, selecting from the widest variety of cruise lengths and combining a land option that suits them.
Our approach to guest service is the best part — we’re driven by a spirit of Joyful Optimism, with a rallying cry of “Happiness Flows” on each and every one of our cruises. We work hard to ensure each guest feels at home and is having fun.
As far as the most popular destinations, the Danube takes the lead, followed closely by the Rhine. Both experiences are great for first timers, but also have enough variety for repeat guests.
TRO: Another of the brands is Globus itself. The bio on the site talks about a boat trip that started it all 90 years ago. Can you elaborate on this, please?
SB: I love that story. Picture a Swiss Italian gentleman in the spring of 1928 rowing lumber across beautiful Lake Lugano, then looking up and seeing happy tourists along the banks of the lake. I imagine he assessed the weight of the lumber vs. that of the tourists, and decided that there must be an easier way to make a living. The next thing you know, that lumber was replaced by tourists, showing them the sights and telling them the legends and lore of the area. A rowboat blossomed into a fleet of early-day motor coaches, and Switzerland expanded to neighboring countries. The rest is history.
TRO: You’ve compared your staff to NASA engineers, a generous statement from a long-term coordinator such as yourself. What makes them so highly regarded in your book?
SB: We’ve built a team in which every person has a clear area of ownership, and it’s up to them to make the most of it. Our job is to match their skills with their responsibility, give them clear goals, resources, and cheer them as they grow. If all the parts are humming in a unified direction, it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. I imagine it was like that with getting the first man on the moon — everyone had to do their part well for the bigger mission to succeed.
TRO: The Cosmos brand is centered around adventure. What kind of tours, planning, and adventures should the travel advisor be expecting from Cosmos?
SB: Adventure is such a fun concept. It’s getting out of your comfort zone, whatever that may be. Travel by its nature is an adventure — leaving the comforts of home and the familiar, to see, feel, taste and explore someplace new and exciting. The fit with Cosmos is that we’re the enabler of adventure. Because we put it all together at an amazing price, we lift the barriers to travel and put the possibilities of adventure in the hands of our guests — wherever that may take them.
TRO: Advisors are constantly searching for suppliers that meet the expectation of providing the best for their clients, and a business relationship that continues with ease. How does the Globus family of brands work with advisors to ensure this?
SB: Our place in the world of travel is making things easy. We’re like the host of the party who makes sure everyone else is taken care of. Travel Advisors today, more than ever, need things made easy for them. There’s simply too much information, clutter, and client demands for a supplier to add to that list.
This idea drives us daily: To chip away at the challenges and become that trusted resource they can lean on.
TRO: Does the Globus family of brands have any big news or announcements coming up?
SB: One of the most fun parts of being a part of the Globus family is that 92 years doesn’t grant us the next year — it’s simply a platform for what’s next. Always something new here.
And since you asked, I’ll spill some beans — this month we’re announcing the industry’s first dedicated product for the home-based agent. How’s that for a teaser?
TRO: Steve, thank you for your time.
SB: That was fun — not the ordinary set of questions here. Credit to TRO for that!
For more information on Globus and its family of brands, you can visit www.globusfamilypartner.com