Dan Hanrahan Leaving Celebrity
Written by: Paul Motter
I don’t know anything about Dan Hanrahan. As the president of Celebrity Cruises he never once introduced himself to me, although I we have both been on several Celebrity ships at the same time, me being there to write articles for this web site as well as another major news channel web site that has readership in the tens of millions. In fact, there have been times when I intentionally placed myself in his proximity, hoping he might notice and say hi, only to have him just walk past me like I am invisible.
Because Dan never reached out to me, I never bothered to learn much about him, but the last few days I have been learning more, as I just read that he is leaving Celebrity Cruises to take a new job as the head of a company based in Minneapolis called Regis Corporation. The company owns and operates several hair salon chains nationwide under several brand names including Supercuts.
This begs the question – why would the president of a successful cruise line leave such a glamorous position to head up a company like Regis? Well, the obvious answer is that they made him a deal he could not refuse. This is certainly possible and in fact Dan said as much in a Travel weekly interview. When he was asked why he was going to Regis he said he was “contacted by a headhunter representing a company that “was looking for new leadership, for somebody who understands good consumer experiences.” that he felt was just too good to pass up.”
“I love the cruise industry and I love our company, but something really exciting came along and it was too good to say no,” he said. More on this down below.
Looking Back on Dan
Perhaps if Dan and I had met I would care more, but I am looking at why he is leaving dispassionately. It is important to note that Dan is not one of the rarified few who grew up in this cruise business and never strayed; like Richard Fain, Micky Arison, Vicki Freed and a host of other company presidents. Dan worked at Royal Caribbean International for just 13 years and only spent the last eight years as president of Celebrity.
Before he was president of Celebrity he served as the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Royal Caribbean, a post now partly filled by Vicki Freed (SVP of Sales at RCI) who left Carnival Corp. when Bob Dickinson left and Gerry Cahill was named the new president of that cruise line. I don’t think Vicki has anything against Gerry, I just think she had higher expectations from Carnival management (that means you, Micky).
I am hoping Royal Caribbean will see its way to name Vicki Freed as the president of Celebrity Cruises. Celebrity is a fine cruise line that does not need better marketing, but it certainly needs lots of help in terms of sales – the Solstice-class ship cruises are selling for a song. Of course, even Hanrahan noted it is a lot easier to drop prices on cruises than it is to raise them. But that is especially hard when you have six of your eight ship fleet in Europe in 2012. This has been the worst year ever in Europe, a market Royal Caribbean has had very high hopes for the last few years.
Right now Celebrity has Constellation, Infinity, Eclipse, Equinox, Reflection and Silhouette over there, and plans to add a seventh, Constellation, next year.
Do I think Vicki will get the nod? Unfortunately she lost all seniority when she left Carnival to go to Royal Caribbean. However, Hanrahan was also at one time the president of Azamara and Royal Caribbean hired Larry Pimentel from the outside to manage that line – along with Edie Bornstein. There is a good chance one of those two will be named for the Celebrity presidency. Perhaps Pimentel to Celebrity and Bornstein to Azamara?
Europe – Hanrahan’s Waterloo?
Like Napoleon, Hanrahan was done in trying to conquer Europe. Europeans are just not cruising this. The Concordia incident had a lot to do with scaring Europeans away. They were much closer to the event and it dominated their headlines far more than it has here. With less cruise experience they also scare far more easily. Then there is the unrest in Athens and for that matter the new regime in Egypt is actually talking about tearing down the Pyramids at Giza. Can you imagine anything worse for Mediterranean cruises than a crazy regime that wants to destroy one of the eight wonders of the ancient world?
All companies, when they have a bad quarter, need to explain the reasons why to the board of directors and to shareholders. If anything, it seems possible the earnings report the company should have scheduled for around July 22 will not be pretty – based on the fact that Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have been increasing their presence in Europe and outside the U.S. steadily for years now.
In any case, Dan’s is the cruise outsider at the company, and it appears there is a very good chance he will made the scapegoat. Not that the company will say anything was Dan’s fault, they have been very careful to give us the appearance that Dan is leaving on good terms to go to greener pastures. But I won’t be surprised to hear them say how thrilled they are to have [insert name here] as the new president of Celebrity Cruises very soon now, very possibly during that earnings report.
And we won’t be hearing much about Dan Hanrahan anymore, at least in this cruise industry, but we do wish him the best at his new job at Regis. He is going to need it: Dan is taking over from a guy who served as the CEO for the last couple of weeks. Before that the man who had been serving as CEO and COO since February chose to announce his retirement as of June 30th instead of taking the job Dan is now getting. Previously, the longest lasting CEO was Paul Finkelstein who quit in February as CEO and left the company all together in May. All of this turmoil at Regis was due to a “hostile investment group” that got three of the board members fired. So, no one at the company wants the position, but it’s Dan’s dream job?
By the way – Dan made well over $2-million at Celebrity last year. The current CEO of Regis has a salary about 1/3 that amount, $717,705. Sales at the company have been down for 16 consecutive quarters. And they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse?
I could go on – I have nothing against Dan at all, I just couldn’t help looking at the big picture. Dan will be moving from Miami to Minneapolis, but he says he will keep an apartment in Miami. Who wouldn’t? And so it goes – all I can say is “Bye Dan, wish I had a chance to get to know you better.”
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Posted: July 12th, 2012 under Paul Motter.