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With a fleet of 23 "floating resorts" and ports of call as far-ranging as Alaska, the Caribbean, Hawaii and the Fiji Islands, Carnival Cruise Lines is a siren call to would-be vendors who want to get in on this company's list of suppliers. If you aspire to be the next toiletries supplier or deck outfitter for this leisure juggernaut, tiptoe in before making a splash.
Find Niche Within Carnival’s Offerings
Before approaching Carnival Cruise Lines, determine whether you would make a good fit for the company. As Cruise Lines International Association points out, Carnival Cruises is known for its reputation as a "fun ship," with a bevy of on-board entertainment choices, as well as on-shore adventure options. Given its wide range of amenities encompassing spa services, dance clubs and theaters, determine where you fit in the overall Carnival scheme and who in the chain of command oversees that division. The supply needs of a ship can be as diverse as engine parts, entertainment costumes, props and napkin rings.
Determine Current Suppliers
Get a sense of which suppliers are currently working with Carnival Cruise Lines, by searching directories in cruise industry resources, such as CruiseAndFerry.net. For example, if you are interested in supplying furnishings to Carnival, search under "interior suppliers," which will provide a listing of vendors. Narrow down the list to companies whose customers include Carnival, and review the kinds of products they offer. If your line of business deals with carpets or bedding, and you want to be Carnival's next supplier, define what differentiates you -- why Carnival should switch to your marine accouterments -- and the added value your products bring.
Contact Sourcing Department
As industry periodical Supply Chain World notes, when it comes to Carnival Cruise Lines, you are dealing with a three-part supply chain, all parts of which you will eventually work with if chosen as a supplier. Early on in your relationship, you will contact the sourcing department, which is in charge of choosing suppliers and hammering out contracts. Carnival may already have different projects, programs and restaurants in progress that are looking for new suppliers, in which case the team responsible for the project will review and approve the supplier.
Pitch Your Product
Having scoped out rival suppliers and distinguished what sets you apart from them, as well as introduced yourself to the sourcing department or project team as a potential supplier, arrange to meet department representatives with product samples. Winning a contract means aligning yourself closely to Carnival's mission of creating magic for its guests and working with its existing supply system. Carnival processes up to 40,000 purchase orders a week, much of it through its automated software system. Carnival likes suppliers that can deliver directly to the port, as in the case of perishables, rather than to a warehouse.
Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.