New York, NY – Nov. 29, 2016 – Gilt.com, the innovative online shopping destination, in partnership with Celebrity Cruises and Starboard Cruise Services announces the debut of Gilt at Sea, its first onboard pop-up shopexperience.
“Gilt is constantly seeking new and inventive ways to bring the best brands and best values in fashion to our customers, wherever they are—now even at sea,” said Jonathan Greller, President of Gilt. “Our New York store, opened earlier this year, has been a lab for retail innovation and these two new shipboard shops continue to evolve the Gilt model into an exciting new format. Gilt at Sea is an opportunity to create a unique shopping destination for vacation travelers aboard two of the most impressive cruise ships in the Caribbean.”
From December 3 to January 29, Gilt shops will bring a curated mix of modern resort style to passengers aboard the Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Silhouette cruise ships, sailing weekly from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. From poolside chic to easy excursion looks, the two shops will offer Gilt’s signature mix of designer brands, on-trend assortments and exceptional value.
“Hosting these exclusive pop-up shops onboard Celebrity Cruises for our guests, in partnership with Gilt, was a natural fit given our shared value to offer unique experiences,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “We pride ourselves in delivering modern luxury in unexpected ways, this perfectly aligns with our desire to surprise and delight our guests, with experiences that enrich their voyage through superior service that is the Celebrity Distinction.”
The 8-week pop-up shops represent Gilt’s second foray into physical retail, following the March 2016 opening of a shop within Saks OFF 5TH at 125 E. 57th Street in New York.
The Gilt at Sea shops will replicate the exclusive access experience of Gilt.com’s insider deals, complete with onboard events, invite-only vintage trunk shows, and Gilt Style Ambassadors to provide shopping and styling advice.
Customers will have the opportunity to shop a newly curated selection of merchandise each day, tailored around rotating themes. Available brands include John Varvatos, Nanette Lepore, Cosabella, Alexis Bittar, Botkier, Antik Batik, Furla and others, in categories including swim, sleepwear, casualwear, accessories, and gifts.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring together Gilt and Celebrity Cruises — two of the most innovative brands in customer experience,” said Beth Neumann, President and CEO of Starboard. “The retail environment onboard cruise ships is extraordinary; it really speaks to the guest who is in the middle of their dream vacation, when they’re in search of the most exciting, unique ways to create memories.
"They want more than souvenirs. They look to our shops to discover, to learn and to remember. Gilt at Sea will offer them the chance to do all three.”
Gilt, www.gilt.com, is an innovative online shopping retailer offering its members special access to the most inspiring lifestyle merchandise and experiences – all at exceptional prices. Gilt is a daily destination for discovery of the most coveted brands and products, including fashion and accessories for women, men, and children; home décor; and unique activities in select cities and destinations. Gilt is part of the Hudson's Bay Company portfolio of brands.
Celebrity Cruises' iconic "X" is the mark of modern luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces; dining experiences where the design of the venues is as important as the cuisine; and the amazing service that only Celebrity can provide, all created to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers’ precious time. Celebrity Cruises' 12 ships offer modern luxury vacations visiting all seven continents. Celebrity also presents incredible cruise tour experiences in Alaska and Canada. Celebrity is one of six cruise brands operated by global cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL). For more information, dial 1-800-437-3111, visit www.celebritycruises.com, or call your travel agent.
Starboard Cruise Services (www.starboardcruise.com) is the premier retailer at sea, providing the finest selection of luxury and prestige brands to travelers on global cruise lines. The company is part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury provider. With more than 600 shops on almost 100 ships, Starboard offers the most desired brands through elevated retail experiences that create treasured memories for cruise guests. Starboard has been consistently recognized for excellence by the travel-retail industry, with numerous awards including three in 2016 from Duty Free News International: Best Cruise/Ferry Retailer of the Year; Best Cruise/Ferry Travel Retailer in the Americas; and Best Cruise/Ferry Retailer of the Year, Asia/Pacific. The company is headquartered in Miami and has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Genoa, Italy.
Robin Rosenbaum-Andras, Robin.Andras@starboardcruise.com,305-777-7683
We are proud to announce that Starboard Cruise Services has received three top awards, including Best Cruise/Ferry Travel Retailer in Asia/Pacific, from the travel-retail industry.
We were honored in Singapore on May 10 at the Duty Free News International (DFNI) Asia/Pacific Awards. Accepting the award was Emily Wong, vice president/general manager of Starboard's Luxury Cruise Retail division.
The award came soon after our being named Best Cruise/Ferry Travel Retailer in the Americas at the DFNI Americas Awards for Travel-Retail Excellence. Accepting the award at the DFNI Show in Orlando in April was Kristy Westrup, divisional merchandise manager.
Fresh from that victory, we were named Best Cruise/Ferry Retailer of the Year at the 2016 DFNI Global Awards for Travel-Retail Excellence! The award, which recognizes the best travel retailers around the globe, was accepted by Stefano Menegotto, general manager of our Genoa office, at the DFNI Charity Ball in London.
Starboard Cruise Services is the proud recipient of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Excellence in HR Award for Social Responsibility for its work with Hand in Hand for Haiti. The project, which has generated extraordinary support worldwide by the travel-retail industry, has built a world-class education facility for impoverished children in the city of Saint-Marc, Haiti—an area of tremendous need.
Since 2011, Starboard has raised over $2 million dollars for the non-profit organization and remains committed to supporting Hand in Hand for Haiti’s growth plans to make education accessible to all local children in the city of Saint-Marc.
Members from Starboard’s human resource department and the Hand in Hand for Haiti steering committee were honored during the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce annual HR Insights conference at Jungle Island in Miami, FL.
Starboard is pleased to uphold its promise of social responsibility through its continued support of Hand in Hand for Haiti and is grateful to its employees, without whose efforts they could not have made such a significant impact.
The cruise channel is one that many brands are only now discovering, but it is among the fastest growing in travel retail. With a presence on over 100 ships, and an emphasis on prestige and luxury retailing, Starboard Cruise Services is the industry leader. Vice President of Merchandising Benito Mendez and Senior Vice President, Luxury Cruise Retail and Asia Office David Goubert outline the vast opportunities that the channel presents.
By Dermot Davitt
Global reach, innovation in merchandising, supply chain expertise and partnerships with leading brands: these are some of the factors that Starboard Cruise Services says will maintain its status as market leader in the cruise retail sector – and especially at the prestige luxury end of the business.
The cruise business remains an embryonic channel for many brand owners, but it is one of travel retail’s true high-potential markets.
Ocean-going cruise passenger numbers reached 22.1 million in 2014, up from 21.3 million in 2013 and a sharp rise on the 2009 figure of 17.8 million, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The numbers are forecast to continue rising, with 23 million passengers worldwide expected in 2015.
That offers a solid base of consumers for Starboard, which provides retail services onboard many of the leading cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises and Costa Cruises, among others.
The company manages stores on 100 ships around the world, with a 300-strong team at its Miami
headquarters handling merchandising, marketing, store planning and design, visual merchandising, human resources, IT, and finance. The cruise retail team comprises 1,500 employees around the globe, including leadership teams in Europe and Asia. All told, it’s a business worth close to US$850 million in annual sales, The Moodie Report estimates.
Starboard’s strategy, as Vice President of Merchandising Benito Mendez neatly puts it, is to provide “discovery, entertainment and memories” through the shopping offer. He says the business is built on five key pillars, naming them as “innovation in product at all price points, delivering value to our guest, a focus on duty free pricing, driving brands (global, discovery and private) and developing stronger strategic partnerships with our cruise line partners.”
Benito Mendez (top) and David Goubert: Senior Starboard executives leading the company’s next phase of growth on ships such as the Quantum of the Seas
It’s a business that has evolved in size and quality over the past decade, from a time when fewer than ten million people took cruises. And Starboard has played its part in lifting the bar for quality. Mendez says: “There is lots of innovation, such as shipbuilding with regard to larger ships, more exotic itineraries and growth in Asia and Australia. This evolution has afforded us tremendous opportunities as a retailer. Starboard has capitalised on this and was the first to introduce numerous brands and concepts at sea. “Starboard was the first to bring and deliver stand-alone concepts for brands like IWC, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Kiehl’s, Armani Jeans and Hublot, to name a few. Next month we are launching Tiffany & Co. – another first at sea.”
Maritime debut: Hublot is one of many brands introduced to cruise passengers by Starboard
The business is built around prestige retail, but there are other elements that will define its future too.
Mendez says: “We have been successful in driving premium and luxury sales across various categories, such as Swiss timepieces, handbags, fine jewellery, beauty and spirits.
“We also see tremendous opportunities in exclusive items and price points under US$100. Starboard is delivering new cruise line logo programmes, continuing to innovate with our private label accessories brand, Cruise Club; and we are excited to launch Newport News apparel, available exclusively on our ships.”
Michael Kors: Another hot global brand within the Starboard Cruise portfolio
The last named is a reference to lifestyle fashion brand Newport News, which has entered a partnership with the cruise retailer, effective from this Autumn. Starboard will offer the brand’s latest products through its ship concessions worldwide on an exclusive basis.
Upscale look: Starboard has invested heavily in its store environments and marketing, says
The strategy for innovation around retailing, supply chain expertise and choosing the best brands to populate its stores means Starboard can bring its expertise to bear on a global scale.
He says: “We have great teams, global reach and support, innovation in merchandising, and expertise
in supply chain unlike any retailer. We literally have stores moving around the world, so all aspects of our business are international.
“We’ve established solid relationships with brands to provide exclusive products, which in turn drive more people to shop at sea. “Being part of LVMH enables us to be globally strategic, providing support and business intelligence from their immense portfolio of brands and infrastructure.”
The company is investing for the future too. Starboard recently launched a new, 225,000sq ft distribution centre to support its business. That has helped the company improve its demand planning and ordering system – one of a number of new initiatives. These include the launch of custom TV shopping channels that highlight brand stories and feature onboard team members and guests sharing their best shopping memories. Mendez adds: “This past year, we’ve invested significantly in our store environments with renovations and ‘marketing refreshes’ to better highlight our brands and engage the guests onboard.
“We’re also very excited about the new ship launches in 2016 for Holland America (MS Koningsdam) and
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation and Harmony that will have exciting retail elements.”
Newport News: A brand that will be available exclusively through Starboard partners
All of this comes as the business extends to new territories. The USA is the largest source market, accounting for around half of all passengers, followed by Germany and UK/Ireland. But a key trend today is the rise and rise of Asian cruising: the Chinese are now already the seventh largest nationality by volume, at close to 700,000 in 2014. The industry is now responding to this trend with vigour.
Senior Vice President Luxury Cruise Retail and Asia Office David Goubert says: “We see Asia as the market with the highest potential growth. Currently it is our second most important market; the Caribbean still leads in terms of number of passengers and ships. However, as more ships are deployed to Asia and built especially for the market, we expect to see Asia increasing its share dramatically.”
And that also means tailoring the store design and offer to cater to a new type of cruise traveller.
“Retail theatre is extremely advanced in Asia compared to the rest of the world,” notes Goubert. “It is also a market that is evolving fast and we need to make sure our retail environment keeps up with the pace. It’s no longer enough to have stand-alone stores for one product, we need to have multi-brands and work outside the four walls of our store. For example, we have had great success with shopping talks about products and with jewellery auctions.”
The cruise business has been a story of robust growth, though there are some challenges too. Mendez says: “Obviously, there are macro-economic factors such as fluctuations in currency exchange rates plus geopolitical issues that affect spending and ship deployment. The good news is that our cruise line partners move the ships to help mitigate these external factors.”
Finding the best people to serve the diverse passenger demographic is no easy task either. Mendez says: “Our people are our most important asset. They’re the ones interacting with guests every day around the world. So, recruitment of top talent globally and providing them with the best tools and training will always be a key focus for us. Another challenge will be to optimise global planning and distribution – again, thinking of the guests’ needs first and ensuring we always have what they want when they want it.”
The cruise retail environment is a channel on the rise, and one that is grabbing the attention of more
brands. They should be optimistic about the prospects too, says Mendez. “Cruise shipbuilding and capacity are at an all-time high. The ships are becoming destinations and new players are coming in. For instance, Richard Branson announced plans for Virgin Cruises to enter the market in 2020 with three new ships.”
He concludes: “The retail business is exciting and dynamic. We have the best customer any retailer could want – a guest who is on holiday, who is in a celebratory mood and who has the luxury of time in which to shop and connect with our shops.”
Exquisite timing: The Regalia fine watches store on Quantum of the Seas
People on vacation want to discover and be entertained. They should come back from a cruise with a memory that reminds them of the joy they experienced.
That's the retail sales approach of Beth Neumann, who took the helm of Starboard Cruise Services one year ago.
'My job as a retailer is to make people feel special and to give them a memory. Not a thing, an experience. My job is to sell memories,' she said.
When it comes to diamonds, for example, a cruise provides the opportunity to invite a woman who's bought on a ship before or is a very loyal cruise line customer to an event where she can get her makeup done, sip champagne and 'play with diamonds.' She can even wear diamonds to a special on-board occasion and be photographed in a red carpet setting.