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Staging music festivals at sea is a lively industry. This was evident after walking into the bustling headquarters of Sixthman, which pioneered themed cruises over 15 years ago. There’s a reason their motto is “LIVE LOUD.”
When Melissa and I visited, the Sixthman crew had just returned from a cruise and already had their land legs back. They showed us around their bright office brimming with instruments and other shiny souvenirs from sea — including a miniature version of the cruise ship, Norwegian Pearl.
“The days at sea are intense,” says CEO and CMO Anthony Diaz. Of their 104 cruises, Sixthman has hosted artists like KISS, Pitbull, and Paramore along with curated fests like Cayamo. But music isn’t their only offering: Sixthman has partnered up with Turner Classic Movies and other channels to throw themed events, like the Walker Stalker Cruise for Walking Dead fans.
“We’re not in the music business,” Anthony says. “We’re in the hospitality business.” What Anthony means by that is that he knows how important it is to treat his customers, or guests, right.
Here’s how they provide a stellar customer experience:
Sixthman has seven “checkpoints” that they aim to hit from the time they announce the cruise to the moment guests set foot back on land. Before the event, they want people to feel 1. invited and 2. informed — and then 3. excited about their upcoming vacation. Everyone that boards is 4. welcomed with a smile and a high-five, and staff onboard 5. look after every guest on the ship (including helping with marriage proposals, which happen often!).
Sixthman also wants guests to be 6. amazed and 7. appreciated — and that means a bye-five when they leave the ship, survey to get feedback, and recap video of the cruise so that guests can relive it.
“Whether it’s standing under the stars watching a collaboration show or playing against their favorite artists in a round of Family Feud, we want every person on board to have that moment where they say to themselves ‘I am where I need to be, with who I need to be with, doing what I need to be doing,’” says marketing and communications specialist Carlee Thomas.
Each of the 12 full-scale festivals per year has its own community with its own unique lifestyle. The events become fully immersed in the brand of the host artist or festival, and Sixthman creates custom napkins, cups, elevators, windows — you name it — so that guests feel the presence of the event and can escape into it while onboard.
But Sixthman doesn’t want to be in your face with its own branding: They’d rather stay behind the scenes and set the stage to make the guests and artists the stars.
“Guests find ways to meet up throughout the year on land, stay close on socials, and form these awesome friendships, so on the ship, it’s kind of like one big family reunion,” Carlee says. “They come as fans and leave as family.”
As Anthony puts it, what sets Sixthman apart is their attention to providing the best hospitality imaginable. “The special touch and care is who we are.”