CruiseWorld Day 2
My second day was more eventful and more educational than day 1, which I’m grateful for. I enjoyed the first day, but I think I walked away with more info today, so that’s a plus! The session began with breakfast by Celebrity and Royal, and we heard from Dondra and Vicki, the VP’s for sales for each line respectively. I always enjoy listening to them both. They are engaging, and interesting, and complement each other nicely. Food was tasty, and the Celebrity signature chocolate croissants were on the table!
My first session was a presentation from Exclusive Group Travel, a site dedicated to group bookings and management for the most part. I’ll take a look at what they offer, as they only work with travel agents. They seem like a company committed to their clients, and are not that big, so service is definitely first. The CEO was also engaging, and warm spoken, and gave ideas on how to manage the groups and people, although I would have liked to learn more about marketing and actual selling to groups.
My next session was about agency and personal branding, and making your business plan more concrete. This was good for me, since I realized I have not been very strategic with my advertising, promotions, and social media engagement. I learned some tools to build on, and hopefully have a better understanding now for how to take the steps necessary to be more successful.
Lunch followed with the keynote speaker being Richard Fain, of Royal Caribbean fame. He spoke about the state of Royal, and all the things that they’re doing to be unique. He continued the conversation about unique branding and what that means to Royal. Harmony of the Seas was presented, which will feature the first Royal water slides. It’s a good mix between Quantum class and Oasis class, so it still has the FloRiders, bionic bar, Voom internet, which is the fastest internet at sea, and even more meal options. After lunch was finished a panel of sales/marketing SVPs from various cruise lines came up to do a more personal, more laid back conversation. Each manager spoke about celebrating their own brand, and how each one is “best”. It was a great conversation to watch and hear how each manager came to be who they are, including some pretty hilarious stories from Vicki Freed, the SVP for Royal Caribbean. Finally, we also learned about the explosive growth in Mexico, and how business has boomed compared to last year. Even in areas hit by hurricanes, all areas are back in service and STILL OPEN.
Next up was our industry trade show. As a STAR agent, I had 10 one on one sessions with suppliers that I know little about. This was an excellent opportunity to make some personal connections with BDMs and have people I can call with personal questions, guidance, and best yet, attention for my clients. Ask me about small ship sailing – I have inside contacts now! Specifically, I spoke with a tiny company called Running on Waves, who sails one 44 passenger tall ship, with charter and cruise options. I spoke with another tall ship line, Star Clippers, who has 3 slightly larger tall ships. And Blount Small Ships, which operates river and very tiny destinations in and right around the US. If you’re up for a very small ship, who can get into island otherwise off limits to ships, I have 3 brand new options for you. And very pleasant folks as well!
The evening was spent with my host agency, at a meet and greet, and a Cycle Party (those peddler bikes where you drink and ride around town). At least as important, or maybe even more important, have been the connections I’ve made. I’ve connected with many of the top agents in my host agency, including our owners, and all are so gracious and helpful, and friendly. They’re a wealth of information, which is helpful for me as a growing agency. But even better, they’re just great people. I’ve spent each evening making friends and sharing stories, sometimes about business situations, and sometimes just about funny things that have happened to us as people. I am very appreciative of this opportunity, as I feel I’ve made new friends and colleagues, and also opened a whole new set of resources. One thing I’ve learned is that travel agents don’t treat each other as competition. I said this before, but its true. Agents help each other because its good for the industry, the cruise business, and ultimately, for you as clients.
Looking forward to Day 3, although sleep is starting to become a challenge. In after 10:00 each night, and out catching my shuttle to the conference at 6:45 each morning. But its been worth it!