What to Expect as CLIA Heads Into cruise3Sixty Week

CLIA's cruise3sixty kicks off this week at Port Everglades, FL; many agents have scheduled ship inspections. // Photo by Port Everglades

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) kicks off the 2015 version of its annual conference, cruise3sixty, this week at the Broward County Convention Center at Port Everglades, FL. The show is “sold out,” with 1,300 agents planning to attend.

Much is new. This will be the first cruise3sixty show that agents can meet and chat with Cindy D’Aoust, the new executive vice president of membership and operations. Her vision? “We want more people to support the cruise industry, we want to improve awareness, education and advocating, and we want to help agents be more successful,” D’Aoust says.

Agents can learn more about D'Aoust's philosophy in this recent Q&A on TravelAgentCentral.com

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In addition, Charles Sylvia makes his debut as CLIA’s new vice president of membership. He’s already active on social media with a Twitter account @cliaveep. Learn more about Sylvia's plans to serve agents.  

Agents who attend cruise3sixty will learn about CLIA’s new educational and partnership options, participate in more ship inspections than ever (given a change this year in that scheduling), and hear about the latest cruise research and trends to help them enhance their 2015 cruise sales. 

On April 22, the trade association will launch CLIA Cruise TV, a new multimedia platform, allowing agents to access information on cruise travel, industry leaders and the latest cruise trends. It will debut at 12:45 p.m. at http://videos.cruising.org with a live stream of the "State of the Cruise Industry" presented by Adam Goldstein, global CLIA chairman, who is also president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Other participants will include Christine Duffy, president, Carnival Cruise Lines; Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises; Andy Stuart, president and COO, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.

From one trade perspective, “they are trying to not only educate agents, but keep them engaged, even after they’ve completed their accreditation,” says Michelle Fee, co-founder and CEO, Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. She likes CLIA’s changes in membership, announced last fall. “Cruise lines have supported the new program and are offering agents better discounts for engagement, including shipboard credits, bonus commissions, and more to support the travel agent community."

Cindy D'Aoust, CLIA's executive vice president, membership and operations. // Photo by CLIA

Given D’Aoust’s philosophy about the value of partnerships, it’s likely agents will hear more about partnership possibilities at cruise3sixty. CLIA has said it would like to form stronger bonds with such sister travel organizations as ASTA and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) in order to better serve travel agent partners. D'Aoust's last position was as president and CEO of MPI.

Scott Koepf, senior vice president of sales, Avoya Travel, says that "while CLIA wears multiple hats, from government representation and environmental issues to trade support, travel retailers benefit from all of the organization’s activities and influence."  

Since December, Goldstein has been handling the "CLIA presidential" duties following the departure of Duffy, the former CLIA president. D’Aoust has been overseeing CLIA’s day-to-day operations during the search.

Many industry insiders believe CLIA will announce its selection of a new president at the show. Last month at Cruise Shipping Miami, Goldstein has told reporters it can’t come soon enough, given his other responsibilities at Royal Caribbean. Travel Agent will cover it as soon as an announcement is made.

But not all is new when it comes to CLIA. This is CLIA’s 40th anniversary, and the organization has come a long way since three cruise shipping groups – one from New York, one from the West Coast and one from South Florida – met in the early 1970s to think about how to work together to promote the “new” vacation mode of cruising.

“CLIA, with their early partners, really blazed the trail with the retail travel community with the kinds of events and training that demystified the sale of cruises and simplified the learning curve to get there,” stresses John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, Leisure Group and Vacation.com.

Veteran cruise industry leader Rod McLeod, who will be inducted into CLIA's Hall of Fame at this week's Hall of Fame Dinner, provided insight for Travel Agent's 40th anniversary cover story

Travel Agent will be on site at cruise3sixty starting on Wednesday, so stay tuned here for our coverage.

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