Capturing Stakeholder Voices: Norwegian Cruise Line
Rich idea exchange on iPod touches adds sizzle to Advisory Board meetings
The best CAB sessions are less about presentations and more about facilitated discussion between your board members, with your executive team quietly listening
Imagine a hotel conference room, a lawn with comfortable chairs and a cruise ship: locations where your most successful distributors are meeting with the top executives from your company for a two-day Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting. Think of a packed agenda where each board member shares his or her ideas, expertise and experience. Everyone is intense, focused on improving business processes, formulating strategies to conduct business more efficiently and effectively. Each board member holds an iPod touch that accesses FacilitatePro web meeting software via a small Wi-Fi hub located in the corner of the room.
This was the scene of the 2008 Advisory Board meeting held by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). It is more important than ever to listen to "the voice of the customer" and use this knowledge to create competitive solutions that deliver real business value. A well-run Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a highly effective tool to gain feedback on strategic priorities and company direction while solidifying relationships with top customers and distributors. These facilitated meetings help validate that the company vision and product direction is in sync with customers' business plans.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is a premier cruise line with a well-earned reputation for innovation.
Create a successful Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting. Create a safe environment for CAB members to voice their views and experience, and a place to stimulate creative thinking and excitement around NCL’s new programs.
A fast paced, highly interactive agenda in which online group brainstorms and prioritization exercises using FacilitatePro and iPod touches were interspersed with open discussion and small group work.
The iPod touches and Facilitate.com software made the meeting fun and incredibly productive. CAB members and NCL executives spent the day working together to identify the roadblocks to growth and finding ways to enhance our partnership.
Terri Burke, VP of Industry Relations at NCL, had approached Facilitate.com to help them design a meeting that would engage board members in interactive and frank discussion about new travel partner programs, along with suggestions for improving existing policies, communications and product delivery. Her objective was to create a meeting environment that was at the same time high tech and high touch – a place to stimulate creative thinking and excitement around NCL’s new programs.
Burke had selected FacilitatePro web meeting software to provide Board members a way to contribute feedback anonymously before the meeting, and brainstorm, prioritize issues and propose actions during the meeting. She wanted to make sure that her Board could travel light and focus on the meeting without the temptations of work and email. And she was concerned about the cost and reliability of using the hotel’s internet. The Facilitate.com team suggested a simple self-contained approach: iPod touches as the input device using Wi-Fi networking to access a laptop running FacilitatePro. The entire set-up could be carried anywhere in a briefcase.
"NCL was founded upon innovation – the first cruise line to offer vacation cruises in the Caribbean, first cruise line with a web site, first cruise line offering customer internet and Wi-Fi access, and the first cruise line to have a bowling alley at sea (just to name a few)" said Burke. "So, when I learned that FacilitatePro works beautifully with iPod touches, I knew that we had found an innovative, simple and profoundly supportive platform for our Board members to tell us whatever was on their minds."
Creativity, productivity, and fun
Burke designed a fast paced, highly interactive agenda in which group brainstorms and prioritization exercises using FacilitatePro and the iPod touches were interspersed with open discussion and small group work. "FacilitatePro is so flexible that we were even able to add brainstorming and voting topics into the agenda on the fly, as the day went on."
David Anderson, CIO of Americas Vacation Center and NCL Advisory Board member was thrilled with the result. "Most of us were expecting the usual presentation-loaded agenda where we listen to the executives and provide occasional feedback. Instead, we spent the day working together to identify the roadblocks to growth and finding ways to enhance our partnership. We used an innovative approach which combined iPod touches as the input device with collaborative meeting software developed by Facilitate.com. Instead of dealing with laptops and cables strewn across tables, each of us used our iPod touch to brainstorm ideas, participate in ad hoc voting and even complete a 17 question survey. With the easy-to-use i-touch interface, I had no problem moving from topic to topic, typing in my ideas or viewing the group flipchart and voting results, which were also projected at the front of the room. And with the touch’s Wi-Fi capability and long-lasting internal batteries, there were no wires to run. The iPod touches and Facilitate.com software made the meeting fun and incredibly productive. Well done, NCL"!