So this is my first year at CruiseWorld, an annual event sponsored by Northstar Media and Travel Weekly. Last year I attended Cruise3sixty, a CLIA event, so this year was time for CruiseWorld. Cruise3sixty was specifically focused on CLIA courses to help your new business grow, and each course earned credit toward CLIA certification. So after successfully completing the courses and selling a certain number of staterooms, I am proud to be ACC certified! CruiseWorld seems to be also focused on building your business, but from a little different perspective. I think this event will skew more towards some of the maintenance aspects of the business and growth, rather than some of the more rudimentary courses at CLIA. Established businesses have a wealth of information to gain, and I expect to learn a ton!
My first course this morning was a CLIA course, getting the most from your BDMs, business development managers. CLIA courses are very straightforward, with a coursebook and a quiz that follows for credit. Interesting enough, and reminded me that as a home based agent, I need to reach out more to my managers, for the benefits of my clients. Since I’m small, the BDMs will not seek me out, so I need to make myself more noticeable.
Next up was lunch, sponsored by Seabourn and Holland America Line. A tasty grilled chicken over a bed of cold noodles, with some chopped vegetables. Dessert was a creamy tart with sugared fruit and a custard base. Dessert was fantastic! During lunch we heard about whats new for HAL and Seabourn. Both under the Carnival brand, its interesting to see how different all the lines are. HAL has a brand new ship coming out next year, with the goal to cater to a younger crowd, and remind folks that HAL is not just for the ancient. A culinary program, new lounges, and classic sophistication is their key. Seabourn has 2 new ships on the way in the next few years, and will continue to build their ultra-luxury brand. Not stuffy, or too formal, Seabourn looks like the ultimate in luxury.
After lunch I attended a session about Clientbase, one of the largest CRMs in the industry. I need a better way to manage my business, as it grows. Excel spreadsheets are great, but with growth, they will become somewhat obsolete. I think I stay on top of things pretty well so far though. I’ll consider Clientbase, but want to learn about a few more systems first.
Next was a session with my BDM from Norwegian. Many agents just got off a 2 day pre-inaugural sailing on NCL Escape, their newest ship. This thing looks amazing, but sadly I did not get to sail. I toured the Getaway last year, and this ship is similar. We learned about the ship and about some features NCL wants to promote. NCL is the leader in freestyle cruising, where client choice is always first. No set dining, embarkation, schedules, etc. For some this is great, for others, a little too unstructured.
Our general session was interesting. Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corporation spoke for a while, and then had a moderated chat with Travel Weekly’s editor in chief, Arnie Wiessmann. Donald spoke about all 10 brands that Carnival owns, including Fathom, their newest brand which focuses on voluntourism in Dominican Republic and Cuba. It sounds like a fascinating concept, and ideal for millennials and those looking for a more meaningful takeaway from their vacation. Cruise as you normally would onboard, and then there are various volunteer choices in port. You can mix and match experiences as you please. He also spoke about the growth in the industry, and how Carnival brands stay fresh and forward. They also gave away 10 cruises, but unfortunately, Atlas Cruising did not win one. The couple next to me though won a 7 night cruise on Seabourn, and another agent from Indy won a week on Princess. Maybe today or tomorrow will be my lucky day! I did win a $10 Starbucks card this morning for participating in the Clientbase discussion, so that’s a start!
Our final session of the day was “Think Tank” by Amadeus focused on technology and how you use it to run your business. I found the conversation interesting, but not sure I will use their product. I already am to some degree with Vacation.com when I use their cruise booking engine, but as a home based agent, working solo, I think their product for me is too price prohibitive. I get by fine on my own!
The evening was spent with a great group of agents at the Quarterdeck, a steakhouse/sushi/seafood place local to the area. Laid back and fun, the group got a chance to chat and bounce ideas off each other. Its nice to meet others so I have real people to call when I have a question. This business is all about networking and connections. We technically are competition, but we don’t treat it as such. Rather we take advantage of what the other knows, and we share ideas, and sometimes even clients.
Day 1 was very good. I’m looking forward to the next 2 days, learning how to really engage folks and build my business.