Celebrating women of influence in travel and business and putting a spotlight on key issues facing the industry, Cruise Lines International Association’s first Canadian cruise3sixty 2010 conference and trade show in Vancouver, June 2nd to 6th, had 1,407 registered travel selling professional delegates resulting in 1,220 agents onsite. Including exhibitors and suppliers, cruise3sixty hosted nearly 2,100 total delegates. The trade show portion of the conference had 302 trade show exhibitor booths – both record-breaking numbers. Early feedback about this year’s Vancouver conference, received from agents on CLIA’s Facebook Fan page, included rave reviews.
Reflecting the growing importance of Canada’s cruise market, Canadian agents accounted for 46% of cruise3sixty attendees this year. Among international participants there were 25 delegates from Australia as well as from Brazil, India, Turkey and other countries around the world. In its sixth year, this was the first time cruise3sixty was held outside of Fort Lauderdale, where the association is headquartered. Once again, American Express was cruise3sixty’s Presenting Sponsor, joined by Tourism Vancouver, Port Metro Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport, Super, Natural British Columbia and a host of other sponsors, including Amadeus and Sabre Travel Network.
“cruise3sixty has grown bigger and better each year and we were delighted by the exceptionally strong response to holding it in the magnificent city of Vancouver,” said Terry L. Dale, CLIA’s president and CEO. “In addition to our many loyal travel agent partners from the United States, the strong showing by agents from Canada and other parts of the world are an indication of how important international business and the globalization of cruise operations are for the industry going forward. Our heartfelt thanks to all our sponsors and everyone who helped to make cruise3sixty 2010 a resounding success.”
The first general session got underway with the “A View from the Bridge” Presidents Panel. Representing Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Windstar Cruises, the panel fielded questions about what the industry learned from the recession that can be applied to the future from Dr. Lalia Rach, dean at the Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.
Acknowledging the important role of agents, Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity’s president, noted “a lesson we’re not likely to forget: that we’re lucky to have good partners at a time when you can’t do things alone.” The executives were unanimous in citing value as the industry’s strongest sales message. “No other holiday can deliver the value that cruising does,” said Peter Shanks, Cunard’s president and managing director. Stein Kruse, of Holland America, said he was struck by the irony that in 1982 cruise prices were higher than they are now while today’s product is “vastly superior.”
In a panel discussion lead by Vanessa Lee and Andy Stuart of NCL entitled “Developing and Mentoring the Travel Agent of Tomorrow”, the panelists agreed that the term “travel agent” may be outdated and stressed the importance of focusing on the professionalism, training and experience of today’s cruise sellers. The value of mentoring, including reverse-mentoring (young mentoring more experienced professionals) and the frequent need to mentor clients, was a common theme in this and other panel discussions at cruise3sixty.
Other panel discussions included “The Small Ship Experience Delivers Big Rewards” and “Redefining Luxury in a New Economy.” “Do You Need to be More Social?” was a panel discussion which investigated the uses of social networking and proved to be exceptionally popular among agent participants.
Throughout the course of the conference, agents participated in 15 CLIA seminars to earn up to 135 credits toward CLIA Certification as well as workshops, destination briefings, and cruise line product demonstrations and booking demo’s. CLIA training seminars taught a total of 2,425 participants, with many agents taking more than one course. On June 5th, during a gala dinner that featured entertainment by Blue Man Group, presented by Norwegian Cruise Line, and 42Five, a featured act offered by Celebrity Cruises, CLIA’s Cruise Industry Hall of Fame inducted four new members: Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. plc’s Chairman and CEO; Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso; the travel industry educators, marketers and travel agents Doris and the late Phil Davidoff and the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH).
Ship inspection opportunities during the conference included: Holland America Line’s Volendam, Ryndam and ZuiderdamSilver ShadowRadiance of the SeasDiamond PrincessCelebrity Mercury. The vessels hosted a total of 1,977 agents.
cruise3sixty 2011 will be held April 14-17 in Fort Lauderdale at the Broward County Convention Center at Port Everglades. Registration is open as of June 9, with Priority Preview registration rates, available until July 4th. Priority registration rates begin at $89 for CLIA members who are either Certified or enrolled in CLIA Certification. Non-Certified CLIA member rates are $109 and non-CLIA member agents can register for $169. Early Bird rates are valid July 5th thru October 1st and start at $109. For more information and registration, visit www.cruise3sixty.com