Black Meetings and Tourism

March / April 2020

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 48

15 B M & T ••• March/April 2020 ••• "The African American market is estimated at $72 billion, and the market for diverse populations overall is significantly bigger than that, and provides us with a huge business opportunity. We believe that having a diverse population of guests on board makes our product a better experience for every- one. "We know that travel provides people the opportunity to experience new cultures and perspectives off the ship, in destinations all around the world, and we believe these experiences and the personal change that can come from them, make the world a better place." If those aren't words you hear universally in the cruising industry, that's because Orlando Ashford isn't your typical cruis- ing executive. He's president of Holland America Lines (HAL), part of the Carnival Corpora- tion & PLC's array of nine cruise lines worldwide. The Seattle-based company offers 14 mid-size ships with cruises to Alaska and Europe, and also sails to Australia, Asia, Hawaii, South America, the Caribbean, and Antarctica. He's also an African-American executive with a long- standing commitment to increasing African-American representation at the highest corporate levels. Since 2009, Ashford has served on the Executive Leadership Council, and was its board chair in 2017-18. Under the leadership of Carnival President and CEO Arnold Donald, HAL has been intentional in building a lead- ership team that reflects the corporate dedication to diver- sity as a business imperative. "I have made it a point to hire and promote diverse people," Ashford said. "Three-quarters of my direct reports are female, our chief commercial officer is female, one of my sales leaders is an African-American woman, the head of global marketing is African-American, our chief brand and commu- nications officer is a woman." Jarvis Bowers, HAL vice- president for digital marketing, said the broad cultural back- ground of the leadership team expands the parameters of the company's potential customer base. "Having that unique per- spective and understanding of the challenges for being African-American helps me look at all the opportunities presented to me with a lens of fairness," he explained. "It's not race, sex or income that determines if you will like Holland America Line. It's about who you are and how you travel. We use those psy- chographics, and take the pre-disposed stereotypes that limit our view, and our potential, out of the equation." Denella Ri'chard, HAL senior director for trade engagement and onboard sales, explained how this approach has increased the talent pipeline as well as the potential consumer pool. "Carnival Corporation has more African-Americans in senior-level positions than any other cruise line," she said. "African-American students finally see working in the cruise industry as a career choice. Hospitality students traditionally think about working in hotels, however they don't think of us as being a 'moving hotel' that will give them access to the world. We've opened their eyes to a new industry that will give them new experiences, take them around the world and give them a global resume." BY PATRICE A. KELLY

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Black Meetings and Tourism - March / April 2020