Peter Mannow from Free Spirit Cruises has put together a fantastic initiative for five special kids this summer. Focus finds out more.
How did you come up with the idea of a Kids’ Cruise initiative?
I was absolutely impressed and astounded by the quality of assignments and projects that the Year 7 kids were submitting at school. These projects included high quality brochures and posters. Given the resources and technology available to the kids today, the expectations appear to be so much higher than in previous generations. Year 7 is the perfect age to relate to the primary school aged market. My son is one of the children and I’d spoken to him about the concept prior to its introduction.
At holiday times it is great for these kids to have some ‘out time’, but having said that, it is great for them to explore their personal creativity and to interact with a mix of people. During the holidays, parents like to keep their kids busy and away from the box and computer games. This is a great outlet in a wonderful environment.
Tell us more about the kids that are a part of the team …
All of these kids received academic achievement awards at the recently held Great Lakes College presentation night. All are either musically talented, have achieved in sport or both.
They all played football (soccer) in the same team last winter.
Liam was presented with a college music award. He is a gifted musician playing piano, clarinet and sax. Katie, Hayley and James M also play the piano.
Hayley is the most gifted athlete, performing at a high level in many sports and has won a college sporting award. Katie is involved in many sports. Both James are engaged in sport at a national level.
Katie, James T and Hayley have all been involved in drama and debating.
Recently 5 more Great Lakes College students have joined us. They are Caitlyn, Nicole, Haley, Tiarne and Andrew.
Most importantly, these are all great kids, good friends with wonderful outgoing personalities. If they are the representatives of the next generation, we are in good hands.
How do you hope that this incentive helps the business, Free Spirit Cruises?
The Christmas holiday period has traditionally been quiet for Free Spirit Cruises. The coach market and party market all but disappears in January. In the past the younger market has not featured as part of the business model. I am hoping to grow this part of the business and would expect a greater turnover in the business.
However, I would be surprised if once all additional expenses have been taken into account, together with the lower average yield (children’s tickets are subsidised) if there is much of a change to the bottom line. The dollar value is not the way in which I will gauge the ultimate success of the exercise. It is important for people to understand that this is not an exercise in exploiting talented children, but extending opportunity to them. The only failure would be if the kids don’t have fun.
What do you hope the kids will learn both academically and personally?
The kids have taken ownership of every part of the cruise that they have designed. I don’t necessarily believe that this opportunity will grow them in academic terms. I believe it is more of a life experience for them. It has proved an insight into the operations of a small business.
They have learned the basics of running meetings (occasionally broken up by Liam playing piano and pillow fights breaking out) through to rostering, customer service, occupational health and safety, marketing, catering, designing uniforms and brochures and working to deadlines.
They have shown me that they understand and respect cultural, physical and intellectual differences and the need to treat all people equally. This will help them grow their social skills as they learn to converse with both children and adults from multicultural backgrounds.