Industry Event Engages More Than 1,800 Delegates and Agents with Comprehensive Training, CEO Discussion, Trade Show and Ship Tours
Fort Lauderdale, FL — April 10, 2014 —
One of the largest-ever number of industry delegates attended Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 10th Anniversary cruise3sixty conference and trade show April 2-6, at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. More than 1,800 delegates were registered for the annual event, which focuses on helping CLIA member agents boost their cruise industry knowledge and sales. Attendees hailed from across the United States, as well as Canada, Australia, Germany, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, Brazil, New Zealand, Kenya, Nigeria, China, British Virgin Islands and Malaysia.
Conference emphasis was on the future during the three days of networking events, general sessions and a two-day trade show showcasing more than 300 exhibiting companies, including CLIA member cruise lines. Agents toured a record 24 cruise ships and participated in over 50 product and destination seminars. Sixteen CLIA training and professional development seminars were held, including 10 new seminars. In all, agents were able to earn up to 150 credits toward CLIA Certification.
In a surprise appearance, Gavin MacLeod - “Captain Merrill Stubing” from The Love Boat - gave away 12 of the more than 40 cruises awarded to lucky member agents during the conference.
The milestone event looked back at memorable moments of the cruise industry, from its rise in popularity, to breath-taking innovation. General Sessions with industry leaders focused on the future, stressing ways to attract first-time cruisers and strengthen the cruise business and sales.
CLIA President & CEO Christine Duffy opened Friday’s General Session celebrating an incredible 66 percent passenger growth since the first cruise3sixty a decade ago, encouraging delegates to share her excitement and optimism about the future of the cruise industry.
“We’re serving more passengers every year,” she said. “We’re receiving guest satisfaction rates that are among the highest in the entire travel industry. We continue to launch dynamic and spectacular ships that no one could have imagined just a decade ago. I’m convinced that the years between now and 2024 will be filled with more growth, innovation and of course, more sales.”
‘CLIA Cruise Week’ – New Name, Global Appeal
Dwain Wall, CLIA’s new Senior Vice President of Agency and Trade Relations, announced a host of new CLIA programs to meet agents’ future needs. These include a new CLIA website and a continually enhanced education curriculum.
“CLIA Cruise Week,” formerly National Cruise Vacation Week, which for several years has been held in the U.S. and Canada, will go global this year. In addition to North America, the promotion will take place in the U.K, Ireland, and Australasia. In North America, the event will be held Oct. 6-13, and will include enhanced features, offers and tools, including CLIA Cruise Week “How-to” and Specialty Cruise Collection guides.
CLIA is also busy evolving CLIA’s travel agent value proposition. Based on travel agent and agency owners’ feedback, the project will provide new resources and benefits, which will be exclusive to CLIA agent members.
Cruise Lines & Agents Working Together
The first day’s General Session continued with Duffy leading “The Cruise Industry of the Future,” a panel discussion with CEOs of the four largest cruise companies. Carnival Corporation & plc President and CEO Arnold Donald said to grow new customers, agents and brands must screen prospective first-time cruisers, communicate the value message and connect them to the right brand. “We are the greatest value there is, but new people don’t know that,” he said. Kevin Sheehan, CEO and President of Norwegian Cruise Line, added that agents must understand the markets, the shore excursions, what makes each ship different and tell the story with passion. Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, credited the partnership with travel agents as helping the Italian line succeed in North America. Innovation can help dispel misperception, said Richard D. Fain, Chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. - a line known for rock-climbing walls, ice skating rinks and wave riding. He added: “How do you believe these old myths when you see surfing on a ship?”
Growing cruise sales was also the theme at Saturday’s General Session. Dwain Wall led two panels with cruise line sales leaders. “Create a Gold Rush – Prospecting and Finding Your Next Cruise Customer” focused on new opportunities, tips and techniques to prospect new customers, including “first-time” cruisers. The panel included Kristian Anderson, Senior Vice President Sales & General Manager, North America, Silversea Cruises; Dan Chappelle, Vice President, Sales, Windstar Cruises; Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Royal Caribbean International; Kristin Karst, Executive Vice President and Co-Owner, AMAWaterways; Ken Muskat, Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing, PR and Guest Services, MSC Cruises; and Vicki Tomasino, Vice President of Community and Trade Relations, Carnival Cruise Line.
Wall’s second panel of the day was “The Art of the Upsell and Closing the Sale.” Together with Jeff Clarke, Vice President of Sales, Trade Support & APAC, Celebrity Cruises; Rolf Logan, Sales Director, The Americas, Hurtigruten; Brian O’Connor, Vice President, Sales (North America), Princess Cruises and Cunard Line; Camille Olivere, Senior Vice President, Sales, Americas, Norwegian Cruise Line; Edie Rodgriguez, President & COO, Crystal Cruises; and Susan Schultz, Director of Sales, American Cruise Line & Pearl Seas Cruises, they provided dozens of tips to drive more sales.
Wall summed up the positive energy of the conference: “We’re feeling more invigorated about the potential we have in the year ahead. It’s an exciting time in this industry. The cruise industry is thriving and it’s ours to take advantage of.”
The General Sessions also welcomed a host of guest speakers and presenters who provided inspiration and insights on the industry, business practices and on the future. Exciting social functions included a welcome reception at the Westin Diplomat and the CLIA Hall of Fame gala dinner with inductions of industry leaders, Howard Frank, Former Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Operating Officer, Carnival Corporation & plc, current Chairman of the Board, Costa Crociere S.p.A, a unit of Carnival; Uf Tukel and Don Walker, Co-Presidents and Founders, WMPH Vacations; and Brad and Jeff Tolkin, Co-Chairmen & CEOs, World Travel Holdings. CLIA Hall of Fame entertainment was provided by Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.
American Express was cruise3sixty 2014’s Presenting Sponsor, as it has been since the inaugural conference in 2005. Other leading sponsors included Amadeus, Port Everglades and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The dates for cruise3sixty 2015, also being held in Fort Lauderdale, are April 22-26.
For more on the benefits of CLIA membership, visit www.cruising.org