Summary of the interview at the 2017 Stay Boutique Leadership Conference with
Edie Rodriguez, Brand Chairman, Americas, Pontant
Edie Rodriguez, the former CEO of Crystal Cruises (and current Brand Chairman at Pontant), believes that all businesses are in perpetual evolution and must “grow til you go,” as she puts it. “Brands in any genre either grow or die.” In four short years under Edie’s leadership, Crystal Cruises launched yacht-expedition experiences, a river cruise division, and a luxury charter airline called Crystal Sky.
“Cruise ships are a floating boutique hotel,” Edie says, “with cultural art exhibits, curation of alcohol, food experiences, and more; just in a floating landscape.” Today’s ships paint across the landscape from family experiences to luxury cruises, like the newly announced Ritz-Carlton ship. “Luxury yacht expedition has become the new experience for boutique,” she tells us. With space for only 60 to 115 guests, the service on a luxury yacht is more individualized and the competition for business is growing among cruise lines. “Competition is not good, it’s great.” Edie believes. “It makes us all work that much harder.”
As a woman CEO, Edie also acknowledges the competition for high-level jobs in the travel industry. “You have to be willing to work harder and smarter.” While Edie believes it is still a ‘man’s world’, she also knows that there are men in the industry who really do want to work with women, and they hire solely based on talent. Her advice on staffing is, “hire for the personality and train for the skill. I would rather have the loyalty because the other can be trained. You need a great team.”
When asked about how she balances work and personal life with such a high-level career, Edie says, “There is no balance, it’s a matter of priorities. Stick with your guidelines you set for work and personal life. Know yourself and where you are in life.” Loving what you’re doing is also key for any woman that wants to have a career and family. “If you’re not happy, don’t do it,” Edie recommends.
After working in the travel industry at high-level positions for decades, Edie was asked what her idea of true luxury is, “Getting to sleep in my own bed and not have to be up at a certain time...and have that cup of coffee in the morning.” That sounds like every working woman’s perfect start to a day!