|CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. agents and agency owners gather on Regal Princess' pool deck. // All photos by Christopher Racioppi were provided courtesy of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.|
More than 900 attendees are onboard the new 3,560-passenger Regal Princess this week for the annual CruiseOne (www.cruiseonefranchise.com) and Cruises Inc. (www.sellcruises.com) conference. The ship is sailing to the eastern Caribbean roundtrip from Port Everglades, FL.
Speaking to Travel Agent, Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., said that the annual event theme was "GROWTH – Gaining Relationships and Opportunities through World Travel Holdings.”
Stressing that the two brands posted growth in recruitment, booking numbers and sales volume this year, Daly says it’s imperative to keep agents motivated and harness the power of the parent firm to propel business growth into 2015: “That’s huge for us.”
So this week the agents and agency franchise owners are attending interactive workshops, listening to motivational speakers, participating in teambuilding exercises and conversing with executives from World Travel Holdings, cruise lines and land vendors.
|Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation, leads the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. team in "The Wobble." // Photo by Christopher Racioppi|
|Brad Tolkin, co-chairman/co-CEO, World Travel Holdings (left) greets Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation. // Photo by Christopher Racioppi|
Keynote by Arnold Donald
The conference kicked off Sunday night with a keynote address by Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation, the parent firm of Princess Cruises, which just christened Regal Princess last week.
RELATED: Agents might read our preview cruise story about Princess' 50th anniversary and the Love Boat approach for the new year.
Daly said that it was fitting that the leader of the world’s largest cruise company was the lead-off speaker for the conference attendees. Donald was greeted by Brad Tolkin, co-chairman and co-CEO, World Travel Holdings.
In his keynote address, Donald discussed his future vision for Carnival Corporation and talked about the importance of travel agents and Carnival's support of them. He also outlined business strategies and addressed the variety of promotions in today's competitive cruise marketplace.
During a light-hearted moment on stage (see photo above), he also led the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. participants in a dance of the "The Wobble."
Monday’s General Session
|Debbie Fiorino, senior vice president, CruiseOne & Cruises Inc., briefed agents about activities. // Photo by Christopher Racioppi.|
On Monday, the conference’s general session included a welcome address from Debbie Fiorino, senior vice president, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. Serving up inspirational quotes, she also gave a presentation that recapped the year and provided a preview of what’s to come.
Fiorino also focused on the advantages of being affiliated with World Travel Holdings and how agents can leverage the relationship.
Brian O’Connor, vice president, North American sales, Princess Cruises and Cunard Line, also welcomed the attendees.
Also on the program was Keri Rivera, corporate alliances manager at Make-A-Wish America, the signature charity of CruiseOne, Cruises Inc. and World Travel Holdings for the fourth year in a row.
Rivera shared the impact of a wish experience and highlighted the different fundraising opportunities taking place throughout the week, including [email protected] – Dance For Wishes, sponsored by Celebrity Cruises, prize drawings, silent auctions and more.
A highlight of the day's program for agent attendees was a cruise line executive panel discussion, hosted by David Crooks, senior vice president of product and operations, World Travel Holdings.
|David Crooks moderated a panel discussion by cruise line executives. // Photo by Christopher Racioppi|
Panelists included O’Connor, as well as: Shanel Knight-Tarver, program manager, home-based accounts, Norwegian Cruise Line; Michelle Homoky, sales director, Celebrity Cruises; Joni Rein, vice president of worldwide sales, Carnival Cruise Lines; Laurie Bohn, associate vice president, national accounts, Royal Caribbean International; Ken Muskat, senior vice president, sales and marketing, MSC Cruises USA; and Charles Dunwoody, senior director, national accounts , Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruise Line.
Honoring Veterans and More
|CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. recognized those who served in the Armed Forces at its annual conference. // Photo by Christopher Racioppi provided courtesy of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.|
On Tuesday, which was Veteran's Day, more than 100 agents attending the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. conference were honored for their Armed Forces service. Conference attendees dressed in red, white or blue, and the room was adorned with military flags and festive decorations.
While a slideshow displayed agent’s personal photos from their time in the service, Tim Courtney, CFE, vice president of network development and ambassador of veteran affairs for CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., recited the names of all agents in attendance who served in the military.
During his motivational tribute, Courtney also drew inspiration from famous presidential Veteran’s Day speeches and encouraged attendees to bring military values into their businesses. “The parallels between military operations and the business world closely mirror each other with many similarities and there is much we can learn from veterans in business,” said Courtney.
“Our veteran agents and owners help shape our organization, forming a single battalion of agents and agencies with one mission of ‘delivering a remarkable experience,'" he said. "Each day we unite as one and march together.”
Other highlights of the day’s general session included a lively presentation from Kathleen Passanisi, a speaker, humorist, health professional, author and educator. She had the attendees on their feet and energized as she discussed how to lead a happy, balanced, success-filled life by focusing on personal values and decisions.
|Drew Daly and our cruise editor, Susan Young, with Regal Princess. // Photo by CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.|
Stuart Cohen, the two agency groups’ chief motivation officer, also presented and he discussed the importance of customer loyalty.
Cruise lines also gave the retailers insight about what's new in their brands. Among those participating were: Carnival, MSC, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Viking Cruises and Cunard.
Rounding out the morning session was the top producer vendor awards presentation at which the leading sellers of each vendor were recognized.
In the afternoon on Tuesday, agents attended educational workshops which included: e-Leads or how to turn e-mail inquiries into sales; how to sell luxury; river cruising; how to sell Europe; a Kathleen Passanisi break-out session; how to sell niche cruise lines; online review of Web sites and agency reputation; and CLIA certification or putting back the person into personal selling.
Daly emphasized that the national conference is very productive for both staff and the agents and agency owners involved. People put in a lot of hard work, he says, noting that "the goal is to come together as a family to enhance profitability in the coming year and deliver exceptional cruise and vacation experiences for clients."