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We are a “Princess Pick” on the cruise web page!
We are realizing how rare and unique our situation is. Richard, a fellow passenger, told us that a few years ago he was a passenger on another cruise. He had several prepared presentations on glass making, and he got permission from the cruise director to present them.
After that experience, Richard tried becoming a Guest Enrichment Lecturer. Princess told him they would only consider him if he had an agent. He found an agent who wanted to charge $100 a day. Richard realized that for that price, he could simply buy the cruise and go on it without having to do any work. So he never pursued it.
When Russell spoke to the intern at Princess two years ago, she also told him that most lecturers have agents. Russell was a rarity in their applications.
In fact, we have seen that Princess no longer lists “Guest Lecturer” as an available job on their website anymore. Instead, they are starting to book more “celebrity lecturers” who talk about their life experiences. In short, our current gig as lecturers doesn’t seem to exist anymore. We wonder how and why Princess managed to pull Russell’s name out of some dusty old file drawer. But we are very grateful for the opportunity.
We have decided to be more aggressive about marketing ourselves. On past cruises, we have seldom seen the guest lecturers outside of their lectures. Even on this cruise, when we see the entertainers aboard ship, they are usually by themselves and look like they want to be left alone.
We have taken the opposite approach. We wear huge name tags at all times. Despite spending most of our time in front of our PCs, we purposely park ourselves at tables along the main walkways. We encourage everyone to stop and chat with us. As a result, we have made numerous friends. Many of them have specifically come to – and recommended – our lectures because they like us as people.
We spend almost all of our free time working on our presentations. One passenger remarked, “I wouldn’t recognize you if you didn't have a PC in front of you.”
We have made business cards. We have also grabbed a handful of feedback cards from the Purser’s Desk and started handing them out. We tell people who enjoyed our lectures that we would like Princess to get some feedback about our unique approach. People are happy to provide it.
Following our second lecture, we have continued to receive universal feedback that attendees really enjoy our “personal adventure” topics and our co-presenting style. Looking at our list, we realized that people might be jarred (and disappointed) if they suddenly heard a lecture on “Longitude” after hearing so long about our humorous and wacky adventures.
We brainstormed what to do about this. Gail had been frustrated that even though we talked about our world trip in two separate lectures, she still felt rushed and wasn’t able to tell all of her stories.
We decided to expand our house building from two lectures to three, and cancel “Longitude.” As a result, all five of our lectures would be about family adventures. Russell was skeptical that we have three hours of interesting material, but Gail thought we would have no problem.
Unfortunately, Russell had finally finished his 66-slide presentation on “Longitude” after several days of heads-down work. Expanding our house building presentation would mean starting all over and several more days of work. Gail pushed hard, and Russell relented.
We met again with Simon, the assistant cruise director, and presented him with a revised proposal:
Simon was terrific. He said, “You’re the lecturers. You can talk about whatever you want to.”
It'’s not “all work and no play.” Last night, Russell won a bottle of champagne impersonating Elvis Presley at the 50's Dance Party.
We made one additional change. As we were talking to people and getting feedback, one passenger said, “I overheard a man who attended one of your lectures. He said that Russell was very interesting, but he wondered why that other woman kept interrupting him.”
Gail was not pleased. She asked Simon if he would please change us in the program from “Russell Lee” to “Russell and Gail Lee.” Simon said they wrote it that way because that’s how the information had come from the main office. He would have to ask Sammi if he was allowed to change it, but didn’t think it would be a problem.
On May 17, we got to watch our previous lecture as it was replayed on the cruise television channel. (You could hear our voices, but all you could see was our slides.)
Gail watches a replay of our second lecture (slides and audio only) on the cruise channel
On May 18, we hosted our third lecture (titled a bit awkwardly by Princess): “Enrichment Lecturer Russell Lee & Gail Lee Presents: The Adventure of a Lifetime: We Built our own Octagonal House… without killing each other.”
Gail thought it was our best lecture yet. With our material more spread out, she was able to tell all of her prepared stories. Instead of Russell constantly saying, “And now Gail has a story about…” we freely bantered back and forth. We had members of the audience literally crying and shaking with laughter as we recounted our horror stories of trying to build a kit house.
That evening, Sammi told us she has heard very positive comments about our lectures. People are talking about us in the elevators. Several have filled out and submitted comment cards. We hope some of this will reach the main office back home.
Our third lecture: Russell and “that other woman"
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