Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced the 2015 Cruise Industry Hall of Fame Inductees.
The CLIA Hall of Fame recognizes individuals, past and present, whose efforts and accomplishments represent a significant contribution to the cruise industry. The 2015 inductees will be honored at a gala dinner during the CLIA cruise3sixty conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on April 23, at the Broward County Convention Center.
The inductees are:
Mark and Mimi Comfort – Cruise Retailer Award: Mark and Mimi Comfort opened Cruise Holidays of Kansas City on November 14, 1988, with the goal of being a cruise-only travel agency. Their business model was to be marketing led, sales driven and customer service focused. The mission was not to become the largest agency, but a role model for the cruise industry, creating memories lasting a lifetime for their clients.
The Comforts are proactive and aggressive marketers, consistently holding consumer events, speaking to organizations, producing a 16-page quarterly newsletter distributed to more than 32,000 past passengers and advertising heavily on Vacation Views, Mark’s weekly radio show of more than 17 years.
Cruise Holidays of Kansas City has been the number one U.S. store in the Cruise Holidays franchise system for 23 years. They attribute their success and numerous awards to an incredible staff of 26 hard-working, knowledgeable and caring employees.
The Comforts love the cruise industry as much now as they did 26 years ago and embrace the changes that have taken place. They continue to learn and grow their knowledge to continue to be a professional and respected agency.
Roderick K. McLeod – Cruise Line Executive Award: Rod McLeod’s launch into the cruise industry began at a Miami-based advertising agency, working on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Ltd. account. McLeod left the agency to join Royal Caribbean’s founding management team as the line’s first marketing director. He is widely credited with leading an innovative marketing and sales organization that enabled Royal Caribbean to emerge as one of the cruise industry’s most powerful and sustainable brands. In 1996, after nearly 25 successful years with the cruise line, he left his position as executive vice president of sales, marketing and passenger services. In 2002, McLeod re-joined Royal Caribbean in a senior staff position working on industry relations and internal consulting projects.
McLeod has also held the following cruise industry positions:
- President and Chief Operating Officer, Norwegian Cruise Line
- Senior Vice President of Marketing, Carnival Corporation
- President and Chief Operating Officer, American Classic Voyages
- Co-founder, McLeod.Applebaum & Partners, a management advisory practice serving the needs of vacation travel and cruise tourism providers
Throughout McLeod’s career, he was actively involved in many travel industry associations, including serving twice as the chairman of the Managing Committee of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). McLeod is currently retired and lives in Longwood, FL.
Rod McLeod shared his memories of CLIA's founding and history with us in our recent cover story on the organization's 40th anniversary, which you can find at www.travelagentcentral.com/cruises/40-years-and-counting-full-speed-ahead-clia.
Wayne and Judy Heller – Cruise Sales Innovator Award: Wayne Heller has had a professional and personal passion for cruising for most of his adult life. After graduating from Florida State University, he was hired by Norwegian Cruise Line. Heller held various positions providing invaluable cross training in passenger services and sales.
In 1984, Wayne and his wife Judy pursued their entrepreneurial dream and opened Cruises Only Inc., a retail travel agency specializing in cruises. By 1997, Cruises Only was North America’s largest cruise agency. To further the company’s success, the Hellers, along with four other entities, co-founded Travel Services International (TSI). Together, Wayne and Judy were responsible for establishing procedures and policies enabling the TSI cruise division to maximize profits, reduce unit costs and expand markets. By 2000, the division had purchased more than 20 companies and generated sales of more than $500 million making TSI the largest seller of cruises in the world.
Since leaving TSI in 2000, the Hellers have concentrated on business ventures, including creating Origin Cruise Group. In 2011, they restored the 130 year-old Riverview Hotel & Spa complex in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.