Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mark Conroy - New Head of Silversea Cruises Miami Office. Huh? Does He Matter?

Mark Conroy and I have a history; and not a good one.  It has been a few years and things may have changed, so I enter this new era at Silversea Cruises (or is it?) with an open mind and the hope of improvements.

Mark Conroy
New Head of Silversea's Miami Office
To be honest, it was much of Mark Conroy's troublesome tactics at Regent Seven Seas Cruises that inspired me to begin this blog and to call things as I see them rather than to pitch to my clients whatever the cruise lines were marketing.  (Rather than rehash it, you can read my article, The Oceania-fication of Regent Seven Seas Cruises - Mark Conroy is Out as President, for a brief explanation.  (There are others you can search for on my blog if you are interested.)

But I do not believe that is wherein this story lies.  It lies, rather, with Silversea Cruises itself!  You see Silversea Cruises has two intertwined, but conflicting, story lines:

 - The revolving door...and reduced titles...Ken Watson, Chief Operating Officer then Ellen Bettridge (2012 President of the Americas), then Kristian Anderson (2014 Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas) and now Mark Conroy (2016 Head of the Miami Office, which has responsibility for the Americas).

 - The stability of a monarchy, Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea's Chairman, and his right-hand man, Enzo Visone, Silversea's CEO.

What interests me the most is Manfredi's consistent reduction in title in the first group and his ever increasing control through the second.  And, regardless of where this has led, and will lead, Silversea - as it relates to its luxury product - the obvious (at least to me) conclusion is that Mark Conroy will be essentially a pitchman with very limited authority.

Mark and I have had our differences, and in the past he has expressly rejected any effort on my part (or on the part of others), to move on.  Regardless, and in  fairness, I sincerely hope that what happened in his last year or so at Regent Seven Seas is not repeated, to wit:  Regent hung Mark out to dry.  Mark was told to pitch a new ship was coming...that never was; and, that things were "free" that were really buried in an ever increasing price, while the quality of many aspects of the Regent product suffered (like the "free" tours and culinary quality).

Silversea has a new ship, Silver Muse, which will have its Maiden Voyage in April 2017 while its most popular ship, the Silver Cloud, is being transferred to Silversea Expeditions (my guess is to not further overextend Silversea's classic fleet inventory). And, to me, both Silversea's classic and expedition fleets could use some fresh marketing assistance.

Hopefully Mark Conroy will be given the latitude and tools allowing him to do his job...whatever "Head of the Miami Office" is.

And, hopefully, Mark will bring a fresh approach to how he deals with those that disagree with him.  Frankness and arrogance are two different things.  And, of course, people can disagree without being disagreeable.

Again, hopefully, Mark Conroy's involvement with Silversea will end some of the marketing stagnation I have witnessed.

And, let's face it, my wish is purely selfish:  If Silversea performs I have more luxury product to confidently sell!