If I worked for Azamara Club Cruises I’d be delighted to have Larry Pimentel as my CEO. Voted the number one cruise executive on social media, he’s one of Azamara’s most effective marketing assets. An instinctively visual storyteller, Larry’s Twitter and Instagram accounts are a joy to behold, with images of the most exotic locations in the world, interspersed with Larry’s very personal take on everything.
I was lucky enough to interview him for The Social C-Suite #SocialCEO series.
Larry, you clearly value social media a great deal. What are your main reasons for using it? Is it to promote Azamara Cruises to potential customers, to engage with existing customers, to let the cruise industry know what you’re up to and how amazing your product is? I imagine it’s a bit of a combination of all these things.
Currently it’s a combination of all these things, yes, but I think it’s more about staying connected. If you look at my following, you’ll find guests, travel agents, media, Azamara team members, friends and industry enthusiasts. Being connected with such groups helps me understand what people are saying about our brand and the latest trends within the travel industry.
“I was initially apprehensive about social media, but once I did my research and understood its power I signed right up. And I am glad I did!”
Azamara Club Cruises has a fantastic social media presence and you do your bit by being very active yourself. Your Twitter and Instagram accounts are full of amazing images from exotic destinations. How important do you think it is for you, as the CEO, to be active on social media in this way? It must be a powerful branding and marketing tool.
It is very powerful because it really demonstrates our authenticity; and it’s even more authentic and powerful when everything you see posted on my platforms is coming directly from me. I love showcasing the world!
When do you find the time for social?
Whenever I have a few minutes really! I find myself to be most active in the afternoons, once I am home or when I am traveling (whether for work or leisure). However, if I have a few minutes in-between meetings, I take that time to stay up-to-date!
What kind of feedback do you get for your social media posts?
The team and I are always looking for ways to optimize and understand why some days my platforms performs better than others, but that’s the unique thing about social media – instant results call for instant adjustments. Overall, we’ve noticed that there is a spike on my platforms when I post about personal travel experiences.
In this article you say that social media is a useful resource for ‘aggregated crowdsourcing’ and go on to say: “You can’t be steered too wrong by public opinion on social media to get the heartbeat of a place, and I apply the same logic to how I run my company.” Can you explain what you mean about that last bit?
When I travel I use social media as a search engine. For example, if you search “best burgers in New York City” the platforms will aggregate top posts, and you can see which place people are talking about most. Aggregating content like this provides insights as to what we should be offering on our onshore program, Cruise Global Connect Local.
“Everything you see posted on my social media platforms is coming directly from me. This is very very powerful because it really demonstrates our authenticity”
Some people may argue it’s not a CEO’s job to be tweeting and posting on Instagram. I take it you disagree strongly with that! In your industry, it clearly makes sense. Are there other industries or sectors where it may be better for CEOs to keep a low profile?
I’ll leave that to each industry leader to decide, but what’s better than seeing and understanding directly what consumers/guests are saying about a certain industry or trend? You should see all of the guest’s feedback we receive on our brand’s Facebook posts!
What advice would you give to other CEOs in the travel industry who may be wary of signing up for Twitter?
You’re missing out!
When did you personally decide to sign up for Twitter and Instagram and what were your primary motives?
Actually, my staff encouraged me to be on social media. They noticed the passion I had for not only the brand, but for the travel industry, and advised that my expertise would be well received and drive interest on social. To be honest, I was apprehensive about it, but once I did my research and understood its power I signed right up. And I am glad I did!
As a CEO, it’s obviously important to have a support network, but when it comes to posting; do you try as much as possible to post your own tweets and Instagram pics?
Everything is 100% my own, no one is posting for me.
I recently interviewed a CEO (from a charity) who had a nasty troll for a while. He could have closed down his account and given up but he persisted and the problem went away. Do you ever get any negative or nasty comments on social media? If so, how do you deal with them?
So far I haven’t experienced that, but my best advice would be, don’t engage.
“There’s a spike on my social media platforms when I post about personal travel experiences”
Finally, as someone who has seen a lot of the world, what are your top five destinations of all time?
Wow, this is a hard one! There are so many great destinations… I would say my top destinations would be: Australia/New Zealand, South Africa, the Middle East (Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi) and Hawaii. All destinations rich in culture!
Thanks so much to Larry for agreeing to take part in this interview. The cruise industry is a glamorous industry to work in – and a CEO like Larry makes it even more so!