Consumers Show Strong Interest During National Cruise Vacation Month

Nov 03, 2008

Proactive Agents and Agencies Capitalize on World’s Largest Cruise Night and Generate an Expected $41 million in Sales, $5.3 million in Commissions

Fort Lauderdale, FL — November 3, 2008 — Despite worries about the economy, American consumers continue to show strong interest in cruises, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). This is reflected in the results of World’s Largest Cruise Night (WLCN) event on October 16, and online, or Virtual WLCN, promotions during the month of October. As the focal points of National Cruise Vacation Month, participating CLIA travel agencies state that these two promotions are expected to generate over $41 million in cruise vacation sales and will result in $5.3 million in travel agent commissions.

According to a CLIA survey of participating agents, over 57,000 consumers, a 28 percent increase over 2007, attended physical WLCN cruise events held by 1,101 agencies this year, also a record. The events held in travel agency offices, hotel ballrooms, restaurants, comedy clubs and other venues, are expected to generate a total of 16,951 bookings for an estimated $20.3 million in sales yielding more than $2.6 million in travel agency commissions. Over 95 percent of agents who planned to participate did so, a 22 percent increase in participating agencies over 2007.

All of Liberty Travel’s more than 200 storefront locations conducted a WLCN event in conjunction with their CruiseFest promotion. “We had a great World’s Largest Cruise Night with over $3 million in cruise sales in one day, and quite a variety of cruises booked,” said Makis Xenatos, vice president of cruise and tour operator marketing for LibGo Travel, the umbrella company of Liberty Travel.

CLIA introduced the Virtual WLCN option in 2007, expanding it into a month-long opportunity for agents this year. Over 3,000 agencies participated in 2008, sending email invitations to nearly 500,000 consumers inviting them to visit a customized Web site with cruise line videos, agency contact information and special offers. It is estimated that consumers viewed over 64,000 cruise line videos. Agents surveyed project $21 million in sales as a result of their four weeks of Virtual WLCN participation. Combined, CLIA’s 2008 online and traditional WLCN events are projected to generate 43,000 bookings and $41.4 million in sales, resulting in nearly $5.4 million in travel agency commissions.

“Given the global financial events of October this year, we are encouraged by consumer interest in CLIA’s World’s Largest Cruise Night and our Virtual WLCN; despite their worries they are shopping,” said Terry L. Dale, CLIA’s president and CEO. “It is no secret that the selling environment in October was tougher than many of us have seen for a very long time as a result of the global economic environment and the apparent purchase decision gridlock caused by the pending US election. Nevertheless, WLCN bookings this year exceeded 2007 levels; that’s encouraging.”

“We are very proud of the CLIA member travel agencies who continue to be proactive and promote their business and cruising in light of these challenges and the proof of that effort is evident,” added Bob Sharak, CLIA’s EVP marketing & distribution. “More now than ever, is the cruise value proposition a great selling tool – and through the efforts of our WLCN participating CLIA agencies, nearly five and a half million dollars in commission is their reward. We’re also grateful that our cruise line members continue to provide our agencies with special offers, support and promotions specifically for WLCN."

Mike King of Travel Leaders in Fredericksburg, VA, hosted a WLCN event called “World’s Largest Cruise Expo” at the Fredericksburg Expo Center, with representatives from 15 cruise lines. The event attracted 500 attendees. “As a result of Cruise Expo, over 10 percent of the people attending are booked to sail, and several more are still deciding on their dream cruise,” King said.

In 2007, WLCN drew 45,000 consumers to 900-plus travel agency events that generated an estimated 34,654 bookings, $43.3 million in cruise sales and $5.8 million in travel agency commissions. In its first year in 2005, CLIA’s WLCN promotion attracted 25,000 consumers to 400-plus agency events, generating an estimated 7,273 bookings, $9 million in cruise sales and $1.2 million in travel agency commissions.

For more information about CLIA, WLCN, or the cruise vacations offered by CLIA member lines, visitwww.cruising.org.

Press Contacts

Travel Industry & Marketing

Sarah Kennedy – Director, Public Relations
Tel: 703-628-7389 
skennedy@cruising.org 

Industry Policies/Regulatory & Legislative Issues

Catharine Montgomery – Director of Public Affairs
Tel: 202-759-6758
cmontgomery@cruising.org