Crystal Blue Waters Full of Fun and Adventure Await Your Clients and Paul Gauguin Cruises Can Get Them There!
Interviewing: Liz Coleman, Vice President of Sales – Paul Gauguin Cruises
An Interview By: Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC – Co-Founder and Co-Owner – Travel Professional NEWS
I recently had the pleasure of hosting Paul Gauguin Cruises for a Travel Professional NEWS webinar. Having always loved the South Pacific as cruise destination, I thought it would be great to learn more from Liz Coleman, Vice President of Sales with Paul Gauguin Cruises.
Can you share some Paul Gauguin Cruises historical data with us and where today has brought the line?
The m/s Paul Gauguin was built in 1998 to sail the beautiful waters of Tahiti and her islands. In 2010, the luxury ship became a part of the Pacific Beachcomber portfolio, then in September 2019 joined the PONANT family, the world leader of small-ship expedition cruising.
Year after year Paul Gauguin Cruises has been recognized as being the leader in providing our guests an extraordinary all-inclusive luxury cruise experience in the South Pacific. Notable names in the travel and lifestyle industry such as Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Travel Weekly continue to honor us with the “Best Small Ship Cruising”.
Can you share with our readers your industry experiences and more about your role as Vice President of Sales?
I’ve been in the travel business since the late 80s holding different sales and account development roles. I honed my customer relationship skills while working at American Express for many years selling corporate payment systems and travel while managing a group of seasoned account managers. Then in 2008 I joined Paul Gauguin Cruises as a Director of Sales covering a quarter of North America. My role was not only to identify new business in Eastern Canada, the Midwest and Northeast but to expand the current relationships we already had.
Then, when the current Vice President retired in early 2022, I was promoted to her role. Today, I am responsible for all sales and account development in North America and Latin America, including charter and incentive sales. My sales team specifically concentrates on North America trying to find new travel partners interested in promoting this beautiful territory all while building upon the great relationships we already have.
With 2023 upon us, can you share any exciting updates with us?
First, I am excited to tell you that we just completed a complete head-to-toe refurbishment in 2022. The Gauguin looks stunning. Then at the end of January 2023 we will complete the renovation addressing the technical side of the refit.
Later in 2023, we have (2) sailings to/from Fiji. These are only offered at select times so it’s important to identify those clients who want Tahiti and her Islands, the Cook Islands, Tonga, then Fiji. To me, it’s the best of all worlds covering French Polynesia and other exotic islands in the South Pacific.
And while 2024 may seem like a lifetime away, we have a couple of NEW itineraries on select 7-night sailings where we re-introduced Raiatea to the mix; discovering the homeland of the Maori people and the UNESCO-listed archeological sites. I have been to this island and it’s so interesting in part because of its historical reference.
If you have time for a longer sailing, then our 14-night sailing covering not only Tahiti and the Society Islands, but the Islands of the Marquesas and Tuamotus as well will suit you. On select sailings we added two additional islands giving our guests an extraordinary opportunity to immerse oneself in cultured history, UNESCO-listed biosphere reserves, and inconceivable natural beauty all while enjoying the intimate and comfortable experience on a small ship where the service levels are the best at sea.
When we hosted the recent webinar with you, I recall you shared how you had taken your extended family with you. It sounded like a dream trip. Since you had the opportunity to sail with family, can you share your top 5 favorite experiences while onboard or in port?
If you are traveling with family, I would like to suggest joining us on one of our summer sailings or one of the last 2 sailings of the year where we offer our Moana Explorer program, which is in partnership with Te mana o te moana, a South Pacific marine education and conservation foundation. We invite children and teens ages 7-15 to learn about the marine life and the importance of this pristine part of the world. It’s interactive learning where parents and their children can participate together, which as a working mom I appreciate, since I like hands-on engagement vs being held hostage to a device.
Aside from the above, here are my other favorite things to do:
- A beach day on our Motu Mahana
- Kayak or paddle board off our retractable marina (water toys are brought to our beach days as well)
- Crew show – don’t miss this opportunity to be “wowed” by our staff. During the sailing our crew will perform for you.
- Even if you don’t have a shore excursion planned, always tender over and check out the local market with handicrafts and local artisans
Here are a couple of my favorite shore excursions:
- Snorkeling anywhere!
- 4 x 4 Jeep safari tours around Bora Bora and Moorea – great photo ops!
- Explore Taha’a to learn about the how vanilla is farmed and Tahitian pearls are cultivated.
French Polynesia is such a magical destination and experience. I cruised there years ago with my son Andy when he was 14 years old and we had the time of our lives. We even brought his surfboard, rented a little boat and made such great memories.
What makes it so special to you?
This is probably my favorite question of all because traveling with us is yours for the choosing. Joining us on a small 330 guest ship allows you to fully customize your experience on your terms. It’s completely immersive, allowing you to engage with the culture, the land, the marine life when you want and how you want. Or maybe better for you, you want to kick back, relax and watch the world go by.
The other element that makes this so special is our crew. They are so intent on making your time with us so remarkable you feel like you’ve gained another family. I have seen guests leave in tears all because our crew made their time in French Polynesia so amazing.
Let’s talk about Paul Gauguin Cruises focus on support for Travel Professionals. Are there any new programs or offerings you can tell our readers about?
Paul Gauguin Cruises has an online certification program called PEARLS – Partners Earn Added Rewards and Learn to Sell. If you want to learn more about Paul Gauguin Cruises and the destination, it’s a great way to enhance your knowledge while learning how to position the product and the destination. After all, most people think this place in unattainable – perhaps it’s that exotic feel or not knowing exactly where it is or how to get there? The other idea is to reach out to their Director of Sales. Our veteran sales professionals can offer ideas on real strategies to help this place come to life for their clients.
Travel Professionals reading this may have some questions on how to best maximize their sales with Paul Gauguin, is there any training or educational opportunities available to the agent community?
Thank you for your time and this informative and passionate look into Paul Gauguin Cruises. Here at Travel Professional NEWS we certainly appreciate the support you offer to the travel agency community. Before we conclude, is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think there are a lot of travel professionals out there who might be thinking they don’t have the clientele for this destination. I would say that every travel advisor has at least a handful of clients who might enjoy the experience we offer. It’s just a matter of time when it might make sense for these people to join us. It’s about changing the dialogue and starting the conversation. This is the first step in putting this unique offering on the table for consideration.