|Dwain Wall, SVP and general manager, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.|
Innovating and anticipating customer demand is what great companies do to avoid stagnation, Dwain Wall, senior vice president and general manager, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., told more than 700 travel agents, suppliers and organizational staffers attending the national conference of both agency groups onboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas on Monday.
CruiseOne is celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, Cruises Inc. its 30th. According to Wall, both brands have survived difficult times and continued to thrive because agents and management as a team have sought to continually look at what clients want and created a plan to meet those desires, rather than just saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Citing the difficulties of such once mighty brands as Kodak, Blockbuster and Border’s, he urged agents to move into 2012 with an eye toward the conference’s theming: “Expand Your Horizons.” He said such companies as Apple, Nike, 7-11 and Starbucks continue to take risk on a regular basis, and therefore, they are poised to succeed.
CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. are certainly expanding their horizons by selling more land vacations. Wall revealed that since agents urged the company to do that, and a land program began in 2008, land vacation sales by the two groups have blossomed. Land vacation sales in 2010 were up 42 percent over what they were in 2009, and this year, they’re up 61 percent of what they were in 2010.
In total, land vacations sold through partner tour operators now represent eight percent of the overall revenue for CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., and when the program started several years ago, that number was literally “down by zero” Wall said. Next year, land-based sales will represent 10 percent of overall revenues.
|CruiseOne's new logo|
While cruising remains the prime business of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. agents, the organizations now have modernized new logos and taglines, ones that better reflect the broadening of their businesses. Luis Zuniga, vice president of marketing and communications, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., introduced the new branding to the audience, noting that the new CruiseOne logo is more modern in style, uses flowing lines, has blue and black coloring, and a new tagline of “Dream Vacations Start Here.”
|Cruises Inc.'s new logo|
Also with an updated look is Cruises Inc., with a brighter blue and a more modern cruise ship, as well as a new tagline, “Your Vacation Specialists.” Zuniga said both new brands' looks will more accurately portray the full range of products that CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. agents sell.
Wall told the agents that consumers today – while wanting diverse products – continue to seek a human touch. “The era of personal service is back,” he said. “Time is the most valuable thing people have today.” Change is in the air, Wall said, telling agents: “Don’t you know that the Internet superstars are absolutely terrified of us?”
“I can tell you why,” Wall stressed. “When I want to purchase something, I go to the Internet to find the best price and if I’m confident I buy. If I don’t know what I want I go to the source, the professional, and that’s each and every one of you.”
Wall also said that despite the struggling economy, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. agents are strong and provide a valuable service to customers: “Customers are choosing us and new customers are choosing us. Over the past 12 months, we have had a phenomenal year.
In addition to strong sales, Wall told agents that his organization has undertaken a role that is more partnership focused with affiliated agents and franchise owners. That replaces the typical leadership role consortia or franchise organizations have played in the past. Citing philosophy from the book, “Servant Leadership,” Wall said: “Your success is our success and we mean it. You can ask any one of our staff members and they’ll say the same to you.”
He said servant leadership requires that leaders listen. “It forces us away from a self-serving domineering leadership,” Wall said, Instead it puts management’s focus on serving the organization’s customers – “in our case, you.”
In talking about the health of the two brands, Brad Tolkin, co-CEO of World Travel Holdings, also briefly talked to the group later in the morning. He noted that when his organization took over, the groups that are now CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. had more than $130 million in debt. Today, that’s zero he said, thanking cruise and other supplier partners for helping the organization become what it is today.
Wall, in his remarks, stressed to agents that it was critical to keep expanding their horizons: “We need to predict change and stay ahead of the curve. Those that have done this continue to reap the risk and the rewards.”