|Dwain Wall, SVP, travel agency and trade relations, CLIA|
As Dwain Wall, CLIA’s new senior vice president, travel agency and trade relations, settles into his newly created post, he’s looking at how CLIA’s Trade Relations and Sales Committee (comprised of cruise executives) and the organization’s Travel Agent Advisory Board interact and communicate.
CLIA currently has 61 cruise line members, more than 200 Executive Partners and 13,500 travel agency members representing 50,000 travel agent members in North America, UK & Ireland and Australasia. With its diverse mission – serving cruise lines on one hand, travel agencies on the other -- better two-way feedback, communications and visibility are essential, acknowledged Wall.
“One of the things I’m focused on is better engagement,” Wall said, noting that extends to cruise lines, host agencies and franchise agencies, as well as independent agents. The industry is so intertwined that what one group does really affects others.
So "we’re looking for ways to engage with them on a more frequent and deeper level than what we’ve done historically,” Wall emphasized. Just how that will be accomplished is under development. Wall has only been on the job with CLIA for about a month.
|Brian O’Connor, VP North American sales for Princess Cruises and Cunard Line|
Wall does plan to work closely with Brian O’Connor, vice president of North American sales for Princess Cruises and Cunard Line. O’Connor was appointed last week to chair CLIA’s Trade Relations and Sales Committee. He succeeded Camille Olivere, senior vice president sales, Americas, for Norwegian Cruise Line; she completed her service leading the committee at the end of 2013.
“I’m honored to work with other cruise executives and CLIA as chairman," says O’Connor. “Together we will listen to the needs of CLIA member agencies and agents to create and improve upon CLIA programs and initiatives that help them in the day-to-day running of their businesses.”
Comprised of senior sales and marketing executives for the cruise lines, the Trade Relations and Sales Committee focuses on travel agent relations, training programs, research and cruise distribution membership initiatives. “I do think a lot of people don’t really realize these types of committees exist,” Wall told Travel Agent.
“That’s part of what I think is the power of CLIA – bringing these constituent groups together…We’re trying to create a formal channel by which we can have regular and fruitful communications with the committee and the advisory board," Wall said. Yet, he said there really aren’t specific rules laid out for how that will be done; CLIA will proceed based on what makes sense for the particular issues of the day.
Wall said several meetings or phone calls have been conducted. He envisions greater participation by agents at the cruise committee meetings and vice versa with cruise executives speaking to the agent advisory board. However, he doesn’t see the memberships of those two groups changing.
In addition, Wall told us that “we’re working very diligently on an agent value proposition program, but it’s really too early to talk about what that is.” He said agents will hear more about this new program in a few weeks.
CLIA has already been visible this year with enhanced training for its annual cruise3sixty (www.cruising.org/cruise3sixty) conference. “Lots of new training will be introduced at cruise3sixty," stressed Wall.
In fact, 10 new CLIA courses have been created for this year’s conference, everything from “Be Your Own Paparazzi,” “Eat, Drink and Cruise” and “Put the Person Back in Personal Selling – They’re People, Not Apps.”
While cuise3sixty is closed for online registration, agents may still register on site at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale on April 2. Wall said of cruise3sixty: “It’s shaping up to be a very solid event as it always is, and there will be some exciting surprises.”
In today’s world, “people are running as fast as they can,” Wall stressed, adding that CLIA needs to be an industry association that gets people talking to each other. “It’s all about dialogue; that’s critically important whatever we are trying to accomplish,” he said. “More communications -- not less -- is always good.”