CLIA: Cruise Night Sales Hit $47 million

Cruise Lines International Association

(CLIA) member cruise lines and travel agencies report an expected $47 plus million in sales resulting from

World’s Largest Cruise Night

(WLCN) events on October 13 and virtual promotions throughout October, according to CLIA

reports. The events generated more than $6 million in potential commissions, according to a new survey of participants. CLIA views the results as an indication of a rebound in consumer confidence.

“Consumers across North America have responded strongly to World’s Largest Cruise Night, the cruise industry’s largest annual promotion, and to the many outstanding offers from CLIA member travel agencies and cruise lines,” said Bob Sharak, CLIA’s executive vice president of marketing and distribution. “This is a strong signal that the innovative vacation experiences and remarkable value offered by the cruise lines, combined with the marketing and promotional efforts of CLIA member travel agencies results in a successful sales formula. The result is a win-win-win situation for cruise lines, travel agents and, especially, the traveling public.”

CLIA agents reported that more than 50,000 consumers attended physical WLCN cruise events held by a record 1,432 agencies this year. The events were diverse and held in travel agency offices, hotel ballrooms, restaurants, corporate offices and other venues.

The CLIA travel agent survey reveals that agencies offering such physical WLCN events have already generated, or anticipate generating, a total of 21,475 bookings for an estimated $26 million in sales, potentially yielding more than an estimated $3 million in travel agency commissions. More than 95 percent of agents who registered to participate with a WLCN event indicated that they did so, a similar participation level as 2009.

CLIA introduced the Virtual WLCN option in 2007, expanding it into a month-long opportunity for agents this year. Nearly 3,200 agencies participated in 2010, sending e-mail invitations to consumers inviting them to visit their customized WLCN website with cruise line videos, agency contact information and special offers. Agents surveyed project over 19,000 bookings and nearly $21 million in actual and future sales as a result of the leads and contacts generated through four weeks of Virtual WLCN participation.

According to participating CLIA travel agencies, CLIA’s 2010 online and traditional WLCN events combined are projected to generate nearly 41,000 bookings and $47 million in sales, resulting in a more than $6 million in potential travel agency commissions.

“CLIA’s travel agent members and the cruise lines responded to WLCN like never before, recognizing the opportunity to build the foundation for a highly successful year ahead,” said Sharak. “It is obvious that their promotions and WLCN marketing initiatives resonated with a huge, untapped desire on the part of a broad range of consumers to shake off economic worries and travel again.”

Participating cruise lines and agents echoed CLIA’s enthusiasm. "The WLCN event was a huge success for us as we took twice the number of bookings that day as compared to last year's event," Joni Rein, vice president of worldwide sales for Carnival Cruise Lines, said. "We believe much of that increase was due to the exclusive booking offer we made which included best available upgrades, along with shipboard credits on our European sailings. That clearly helped our travel partners close the sale and earn more commissions. We were pleased that so many partners participated and demonstrated their interest in Carnival Magic's European program."

"“Uniworld was excited to participate in this year’s WLCN event and it was a resounding success," Scott Brandner, manager of sales promotions at Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, said."During the week after WLCN, we saw significant bookings made in conjunction with the cruise night and our phones were buzzing! Each year we see a significant rise in our number of bookings in conjunction with WLCN and we look forward to next year."

“For the past three years, Cruise Planners has taken CLIA’s World’s Largest Cruise Night and turned it into a week-long event,” said Terri Burke, senior vice president, relationship marketing for Cruise Planners/American Express. “This year demonstrated our largest participation ever, with over 10 nationwide live cruise nights, 50 virtual cruise nights, 200,000 direct mail pieces, 300,000 emails and 20 cruise line presentations. The theme, appropriately, was the ‘The Greatest Cruises on Earth,’ complete with various cruise line ‘shows’ and unique consumer benefits. Preliminary results show very strong double digit increases in deposited bookings over 2009 – but, historically, the true value of this event will be felt for months to come with even more incremental bookings. We could not have orchestrated such a successful event without the strong support of CLIA in terms of offers, online videos and agent training.”

Candie and Dick Steinman, two Cruises Inc. independent contractors who founded Gateway Cruise and Travel Club in Fort Myers, FL, felt that World’s Largest Cruise Night not only helped them gain business, but also gained them credibility in their community. “Having representatives from Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises join us for World’s Largest Cruise Night showed our Gateway community members that we are knowledgeable and respected in the cruise and travel profession," Steinman said. "We received a lot of interest in future cruises after our event, and are meeting with a group this week to discuss future bookings, and a possible family reunion group!”

"We promoted WLCN to our 7,000 email subscribers," Charlie Funk, of Just Cruisin Plus in Nashville, commented. "We used a drop-in format from 3:00 to 5:30 pm and had about 50 people attend. We took reservations and deposits for about $28,000 from those who attended over the next two days and have booked more since. In addition, we booked and deposited about $20,000 from those who received the email about the event, could not attend and asked us to extend the promotions we were using at the event. In a time when some agencies are reporting slower call traffic, we have been quite busy."

In 2009, travel agents report that WLCN drew consumers to 1,309 travel agency events that generated an estimated 40,000 bookings, $45 million in cruise sales and a potential $5.9 million in travel agency commissions. In its first year in 2005, CLIA’s WLCN promotion attracted 25,000 consumers to 400-plus agency events, generating an estimated 7,273 bookings, $9 million in cruise sales and $1.2 million in travel agency commissions.


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