World's Largest Cruise Night a Hit

The Cruise Lines International Association's "World's Largest Cruise Night" event has come and gone and the returns have been "phenomenal," says one travel agency executive. On Wednesday, a record number of agencies across North America participated in the event, promoting special cruise line offers and deals. CLIA counts that 900 agencies participated this year, 200 more than in 2006. "It's a tremendous sales opportunity and we are making the most of it by providing our agents with a wide variety of free, sales-driving marketing tools," said Teresa LeClair, director of marketing for Cruise Planners.

Many of CLIA's member lines offered deals such as dollars off, free upgrades and shipboard credits. Makis Xenatos, vice president of cruise and tour operator marketing for LibGo Travel, the umbrella company of Liberty Travel, was on hand in Liberty Travel's office on 41st Street and Madison in Manhattan Wednesday, along with Terry Dale, president and CEO of CLIA. Early that morning, Liberty Travel agents appeared on CBS' Early Morning Show to tout the sales event.

"It was a very, very good day," Xenatos said, adding that it was a record weekday for cabins booked. "All the cruise lines fared well, as did we across 12 regions." Liberty Travel has storefronts throughout the eastern seaboard and recently opened offices in Chicago. "World's Largest Cruise Night is a way to engage guests," said Diane Brancella, senior vice president of sales promotion for Liberty Travel, where 25 percent of overall business is cruise related and growing.

Case in point, at the start of the day Wednesday, an agent in one of Liberty Travel's offices sold two cruises in the span of 28 minutes. In 2006, the sales event generated $18.5 million in cruise sales and more than $2.4 million in travel agency commissions. (DE)