After starting a fledgling career in travel at the age of 18, Heather Bissix has spread her wings at Royal Caribbean. Abra Dunsby learns more about her achievements.
Regular family trips might have sparked her thirst for travel, but Heather Bissix never expected she’d end up landing a job in the industry.
“My brother and cousin run their own business, which was located right opposite Royal Caribbean’s old Addlestone offices, so I heard about the position purely by chance,” she tells me.
While Lady Luck might have played a part in her beginnings in travel, it’s clear that Bissix’s success since has everything to do with her tenacity and eagerness to learn.
At the age of 18, she began her career with Royal Caribbean as a trade sales agent, taking calls from travel agents and guests. “It was a really useful way to start out as you get to know what the customer wants, plus it gave me a good understanding of the business as a whole,” she says.
After a year Bissix moved on secondment to a training position on the quality assurance team, which involved monitoring the quality of calls.
She describes this period as one of the most challenging in her career as she was working alongside colleagues from the call centre, and as their new superior, it became a test to command their respect, especially as they were older than her.
The hard work paid off and Bissix became a supervisor in the call centre. Then in 2013, Royal Caribbean went through a restructure and reduced the number of UK customer service centres, outsourcing its support centre to Guatemala.
Instead of faltering under pressure due to the risk of redundancy, Bissix made the most of the situation. “I decided to embrace the change, becoming heavily involved in setting up the call centre out there,” she explains.
From there, Bissix made her first move into marketing, initially in a two-month coordinator position on the Celebrity marketing team, working on email marketing.
She impressed enough to be promoted to her current position as campaign executive at Royal Caribbean, where she looks after tactical marketing across different distribution channels, for both trade and direct sales.
“I love how varied the role is; there’s lots of scope for new ideas and to develop myself,” she observes. “I work closely with Miami head office to drive sales and develop relationships, and I also make regular trips to Southampton to meet the crew onboard the ships there.”
Recently Bissix has been tasked with growing the NextCruise onboard sales programme – a challenge she has loved. “We needed to shout about the initiative more and make sure the trade understood how it works, providing them with the tools to promote it,” she explains.
She has been busy producing educational collateral to promote the programme, and part of the ongoing project also involved making a video, filmed onboard Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona and presented by her.
Bissix describes her role growing the onboard sales programme as one of her biggest successes to date, alongside being named one of Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders: “I’m grateful to have even been nominated, let alone named as a winner, so I feel very lucky and excited about that.”
Speaking about her long-term goals, Bissix says her current ambitions include learning as much as she can, as well as broadening her understanding of the different aspects and roles within the business.
“I’m lucky that Royal Caribbean is a global company, which opens up opportunities to move around the business,” she explains.
Such is her passion for travel that Bissix doesn’t envisage leaving the industry: “I genuinely don’t know where I’d be if I wasn’t in travel. I can’t imagine being anywhere else!”
Paul Nelson, World Travel Market Portfolio press & PR manager – sponsor of Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders – says:
“Bissix’s thirst for learning is clear and will stand her in good stead as a future leader of the travel industry.
She has achieved so much and gained numerous promotions within Royal Caribbean while experiencing many different roles in the organisation, from being a travel agent and a call centre supervisor to the position of campaign executive. This experience has seen her play a key role in a number of big projects for the company including outsourcing the support centre to Guatemala and, of course, her current project of growing the NextCruise onboard sales programme. She is also clearly very modest as she cites luck for starting her career at Royal Caribbean, and is grateful for her nomination for the Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders scheme. With her passion for learning and for the travel industry, I’m sure there will be even more success ahead for her.”