Brightwell business trips are like none other. Why? We work in the cruise industry. That means when we send out our team members on business trips they often travel to exotic locations, hop on cruise ships, and connect with people from all over the world. In July 2019, we sent a team on a business trip to Juneau, Alaska. Juneau is a remote city nestled between snow-capped mountains and an icy channel. It’s a de facto island because the only way in and out of the island is by plane or ferry. There are no roads that connect it to mainland Alaska, but there are major cruise ships that visit Juneau!
On this particular trip, our team stayed in port and boarded multiple Princess Cruise ships while they were docked. We call these types of ship visits Port Days. Port Days are a traveling marketing/customer service squad that injects themselves into the environment of our consumer base in order to resolve problems, answer questions, and listen to the people that use our product every day. The lucky Brightwellians who attended this Juneau Port Day were:
Over the course of the next five days, these fantastic four boarded a new ship everyday spending anywhere from eight-to-ten hours engaging one-on-one with crew. Equipped with laptops, their extensive Brightwell knowledge, and copious amounts of coffee, this team rallied together to brighten the financial lives of our users.
Cat and Justin are new to the Brightwell family and what they shared about their experience was inspiring. Cat works in Client Services and, simply put, her main responsibility is to fix things if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, she doesn’t often hear about how frequently things go right. She shared how exhilarating it was to hear the positive stories about how Brightwell helps crew send money home. "At one point, a woman came up to me simply to say how happy she was that she could send money home to her mom in South Africa in two days. Being exposed to our product in a positive way was refreshing!” – Cat
Justin's day-to-day involves working closely with crew managers and officers who are on ships around the globe. As you can imagine, discussing complex financial details over email can be tough, so Justin was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to meet the people he chats with regularly. "I interact with the crew managers and crew agents, so it was wonderful meeting them and putting a face to a name. It brings everything full circle and brought a perspective that I didn’t have before. It helped tremendously.” – Justin
Annick and Lorena are seasoned ship visitors. At the office, Annick works behind-the-scenes using her design expertise to improve the user interface of our app. On Port Day, we brought her along to test new product features. Getting a genuine, in-person perspective of ship life is priceless when it comes to understanding our end users - the crew. Lorena is a travel manager and is on ships regularly, but this go-round she and Annick got a particularly unique experience: they were on the team that enrolled many of the Princess ships onto the Brightwell payroll platform in early 2019!
“I was on a couple different Princess ships, and I recognized quite a few people and crew members recognized me!” – Lorena
This nostalgic moment of recognizing a friendly face from just a few months ago was more than heart-warming – it brings a deeper meaning to your daily work. “My favorite interaction was going back to the same ship that I enrolled and actually seeing the same people I helped. We recognized each other, we hugged and we were so happy to see each other.” – Annick
Remember back in the day when it took five minutes to load a single webpage on internet? Well, that is what internet can be like on ship on a good day. We know this, and have designed our Brightwell Navigator mobile app to work as efficiently as possible with weak internet connections. Cat put it perfectly, “I learned so much that I would never learn in this office. The daily struggles they have with the internet - it really reignited a lot of empathy and compassion for how difficult it is to manage finances when you are on a ship. It was tough at port and it’s more difficult at sea.”
Despite the poor internet, our team had solutions! "I would connect the cardholders’ phone to my hotspot so they could receive an email they need to reset their password,” Cat noted about her innovative ways to circumvent poor internet. Challenging to work on under these conditions? Maybe a little, but definitely a valuable learning experience for the team.
The knowledge gained from the one-on-one engagement with crew is priceless – a perspective that is impossible to achieve in the office. In the end, this team expressed tremendous gratitude for their opportunity travel to Juneau, Alaska.
Thank you for the beautiful sightseeing, thank you for the crazy taxi drivers, and thank you to the crew for…
…always being welcoming and kind and making us as comfortable as possible while on ship.
…being the most patient and integrity-filled people I've ever met.
…no matter how many times I’ve met them, showing me a true work ethic.