|Left to Right: Christine Duffy, president and CEO, CLIA; Arnold Donald, CEO, Carnival Corp.; Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean; Kevin Sheehan, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line; Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises // Photo by Susan J. Young|
More than 21.7 million people will cruise on Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) member lines in 2014, nearly the entire size of the population of Australia, Christine Duffy, president and CEO, CLIA, told approximately 2,000 agents attending the General Session at cruise3sixty on Friday.
Duffy celebrated CLIA’s 10th anniversary cruise3sixty by telling agents that when the conference began in 2005, CLIA member lines carried just 13 million passengers. In the past decade the number of guests who’ve sailed has grown 66 percent.
“Today, with offices and resources around the world, CLIA is a global association, made up of 13,500 travel agency members, over 60 cruise line members and more than 250 executive partners representing port authorities, destinations, maritime and industry suppliers,” Duffy said. “My message to you is that you should be excited, optimistic and happy about the future of the cruise industry.”
She also emphasized that the industry now has 410 ships with 467,000 berths but at the end of 2015, it will have added 24 more new ships and top the 500,000 berth figure for the first time.
|Dwain Wall, SVP, agency and trade relations, CLIA // Photo by Susan J. Young|
Ramping Up Agency Support
Duffy thanked agents for making CLIA the world’s largest travel agency association, and said the organization will evolve to meet agents’ future needs. As part of that commitment, she cited the appointment of Dwain Wall, the line’s new senior vice president, agency and trade relations.
Wall explained that his top priority moving forward is to ramp up the “CLIA travel agent value proposition.” He said that CLIA recently added a few things to the list of benefits offered agency members including a new Web site, advanced and online training, a new specialty sales guide and “the new National Cruise Vacation Week, or as we now call it, CLIA Cruise Week,” which will take place in North America on Oct. 6-13.
“The program will be global this year for the first time,” Wall stressed. Promotion will take place not only in North America, but also in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland. “We will expand this to other countries in future years,” he added.
In ramping up the value proposition for agents, Wall said that over the past few months CLIA performed extensive market research that included front-line agent interviews, feedback from consortia and host executives and the perspective of current and former CLIA members.
Results? He said that CLIA learned the certification programs are critical to how agents are perceived by clients. “I tell my clients I have a master’s in cruising,” one agent told the researchers. “They know they can trust me.”
In the coming year, CLIA will develop tools that imbed more effectively into the agent’s daily workday, said Wall. “We will be ramping up our discount and benefit programs with new, easier to use and easier to access benefit books, better online promotions and unique programs available only to CLIA members.”
CLIA also plans to give "member only" preferential access to familiarization trips, seminars at sea as well as personal and exclusive invitations to inaugurals – CLIA members only,” said Wall. “Ultimately, the more active CLIA member you are, the more benefits you will now be able to see and redeem.”
He also said more promotion will be done to showcase CLIA member travel agents, especially during CLIA Cruise Week. In the future, CLIA will add this call-to-action to its messaging: “For more information, contact your CLIA travel professional.”
|Captain Stubing of the Love Boat (Actor Gavin MacLeod) with Christine Duffy of CLIA // Photo by Susan J. Young|
Greater Fort Lauderdale and Port Everglades
Also talking to agents at the first General Session were Carlos Molinet, senior vice president, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Steve Cernak, chief executive and port director, Port Everglades.
Cernak said the port is spending $56 million to upgrade four major cruise terminals; this month it begins renovation of Terminal 4.
Ranking in the top three ports worldwide for ships and passengers served, Port Everglades will also welcome the new Regal Princess, which Cernak said will be named at Port Everglades on November 5. Also coming in 2015 is Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas.
“We like to think of Port Everglades as ‘cruise easy,’ said Cernak, noting that his group has a goal of moving guests from the curb to the ship in 15 minutes or less. “We know that travel is difficult and we want to eliminate any undue stress to get our cruise visitors off on the right start to their cruise vacation.”
More than 13 million visitors come annually to enjoy Greater Fort Lauderdale, said Molinet. He noted that a multi-million-dollar terminal renovation and runway expansion program is under way at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
“While it’s a little messy right now, the airport is being completely modernized,” he said. Copa Airlines and Norwegian Air are two of the new international airlines that have recently started service to FLL.
He added that JetBlue’s goal is to shortly have 100 flights a day into Greater Fort Lauderdale from all over the country.
New hotels? The new $147 million, 349-room Margaritaville Resort, a Jimmy Buffett themed property, is under construction on Hollywood Beach and is slated to open in late summer 2015. A new 290-room, 24-story Conrad Hilton also will open in Broward County in 2015.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest updates from cruise3sixty.