Kevin Weisner and John Lovell
As Cruise Holidays International heads into 2014, its 30th year, the big question Travel Agent had for the group’s executives at this year’s annual conference on Norwegian Breakaway, earlier this week, was: “How’s business?”
With 15 new cruise ships hitting the water next year, “we know the demand is there,” John Lovell, president, Travel Leaders Leisure Group, told us, noting that overall, cruise sales by Cruise Holidays’ franchise agencies have been very good this year.
Getting first timers onboard remains a challenge industry-wide but Lovell also said the cruise industry’s overall growth rate is far superior to that of other industries, including the airline industry.
One glimmer of new trends? Lovell told us that, for the first time, deep-water cruising and river cruising are beginning to play off one another. It’s not just getting ocean cruisers onto river boats, although that’s more common. But now, Lovell says, some river clients are trying ocean cruising.
“The river is now coming over to the deep water too,” he said. “The two industries are playing off each other. It’s a symbiotic reaction.”
Kevin Weisner, senior vice president, Cruise Holidays International, was also bullish on the cruise industry’s sales potential moving into 2014. So were many of the 175 Cruise Holidays franchise owners or agents who attended the conference.
Weisner outlined what the Cruise Holidays corporate headquarters is doing to help franchise owners. “We are preparing our people and providing an extraordinary level of support,” he said, noting it is important for cruise advisors to stay current and relevant, and providing them with the best technology is a means to do just that.
Major technology enhancements were unveiled by Cruise Holidays earlier this week. The group’s CruiseWeb operating system is being rebranded as AgentMate. At the same time, upgrades are being made to the AgentMate dashboard with the ability for greater reporting capabilities.
“We have grown a very robust, rich operating system,” Weisner said. “Technology is only valuable when you’re doing something with it. It helps our franchises run our business.” The rebranding and upgraded features will help agents with everything from personalized invoices, automatic reminders and many other intuitive actions. “The goal is to help the agent on the front line manage the transaction as successfully as possible,” he said.