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Posted on 01.26.2010

Potential for disaster…averted

As I’ve mentioned before, I {heart} NPR. So it should be no surprise when I report that one of my favorite interviews of all time was on NPR this week. On All Things Considered, Steve Inskeep interviewed Adam Goldstein, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, about his company’s continued tourist endeavors in Haiti after an earthquake decimated entire towns. Of course, the circumstances of this interview are tragic. So the prospect of unaffected tourists relaxing on vacation while thousands suffer around them is an incongruous image.

Potential-for-disaster-averted

After hearing that Royal Caribbean cruises were still docking in Haiti for tourists to jet ski and lounge on the beach, Inskeep asked the question that many wanted to ask—Why?

Goldstein’s reasoned explanations for his decision to maintain tourist activity in Haiti were explained rationally with: “We actually felt it was a pretty easy decision once we realized that the physical site at our property at Labadee was unaffected by the earthquake, and second, after the Haitian government made it clear that they wanted to continue to have our ships visit, both for the economic benefit that they normally bring, as well as the humanitarian aspect of delivering relief supplies." “We're unloading about 40 to 60 pallets worth of materials with each ship call [including] a lot of water, canned goods, and then shelter-type relief supplies to the extent that they're made available to us.” Goldstein even leads the listener to the opinion that Royal Caribbean is actually helping Haiti by continuing its business operations: “I think Royal Caribbean is Haiti's largest foreign direct investor in any industry. Royal Caribbean wants to be involved. Maybe the type of relief effort we have in mind would do road construction and road maintenance that would sustain over time.” Admittedly, I was cynical about Goldstein’s decisions when the interview started. But by the end of it I was seeing his side of the story. Why was I so swayed by this CEO? Because he is a very strategic and effective communicator. He provided well-supported and reasoned explanations for his business decision including factual information that supported his claim that his business is good for Haiti’s recovery. When was the last time you heard an interview that could have gone so badly turn out so well?

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