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Bill Panoff: Onboard The Love Boat

Originally from Philadelphia, Bill is a naturally born entertainer - you can see the fun in his eyes.

Bill Panoff is the founder and CEO of PPI Group, a multimedia & publishing company, responsible for the press and distribution of the leading cruise ship magazine in the industry, Porthole Magazine.

His first encounter with the “suit life” was through the 70’s TV show, “The Love Boat”. Within the first few minutes of our meeting he pulled out a picture of himself when he was young and we traveled back in time.

At the age of 12 years old Bill was a comedy magician performer at local Bar Mitzvas and events “I was always an entertainer, but I wasn’t a good magician so I mostly made people laugh as a comedian magician”.

His first experience on-board a cruise ship was in the mid 80’s right after college. He was hired as the magician/entertain on board at 22 years old. His first gig was on board a Carnival cruise ship ‘They had only 3 cruise ships in the late 70’s”. Within three years after providing many smiles, he was promoted to Senior Cruise Director, responsible for the happiness of the guests (800 passengers every cruise), and the entertainment and activities on board the ships.

After 12 years on board, Bill realized a void, a missing element, and an opportunity in the experience guests had on the ship. People used to come to him asking for tips, advice, suggestions and recommendations and there was no guide or published directory or magazine to help - so he created one.

PPI Group is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The first edition of Porthole Magazine was published in 1996. Since the company have grown to over 40 different publications.

30 years in, and almost 50 employees strong, Bill have recently brought his daughter, Carolina Panoff (25), on board as Chief Growth Officer, looking to expand the company's operations and services. As part of the restructuring he is also currently building a digital agency division for the publishing company continuing to diversify media to hotels and the tourism industry. His biggest challenge: “Not enough family time – balancing life. I regret that. But I’m making up for it now – my daughter is working for me”. Biggest accomplishment: “maintain the business when media companies come and go”. Persistence – going above & beyond, is what kept him going.

Bill moved to Delray 6 years ago with his wife who he met on a blind date set up by a friend from the cruise line industry. “On our first date I pulled coins out of her ear and did balloon animals. She still has them”. He enjoys breakfasts at Caffe Martier usually hidden behind his baseball cap, but always available for your entertainment…or some balloon animals 😊

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