The CLIA UK & Ireland 10th annual conference kicked off with ‘Our Big Cruise Networking Breakfast’ followed by a fantastic CLIA conference at the Hilton Ageas Bowl with a stellar line-up of key speakers, including Larry Pimentel, President and Chief Executive, Azamara Club Cruises; Arnold Donald, Chief Executive, Carnival Corporation; Adam Goldstein, President and Chief Operating Officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises; Cindy D’Aoust, President and Chief Executive, CLIA; Andy Harmer, Vice President Operations and Director, CLIA UK & Ireland; and Lucy Huxley, Editor-in-Chief, Travel Weekly Group.
The CLIA conference was a highly educational event coupled with a high-energy social programme. The Song for a Cruise was a huge success with the three finalists going down to the wire before the talented Vickie Jones emerged as the overall winner.
Two new CLIA travel agent initiatives, designed to help boost cruise sales, were launched at the conference. Andy Harmer, Vice President Operations, CLIA Europe, congratulated agents on their positive ‘can do’ attitude and encouraged them to embrace the new initiatives that will help in making them more knowledgeable about all areas of selling cruise holidays.
‘MYCLIA Clubs’ will help agents who have a specific interest in growing their sales in a specific cruise sector. Agents will have a choice of one of five clubs on cruiseexperts.org – river, ultra-luxury, contemporary, discovery and premium – and this will provide access to a special area of the website with dedicated communications and information relating to that cruise sector.
With learning such a crucial element of successful selling, particularly in the fast-moving cruise industry, the CLIA ‘Training Crusade’ will set a challenge for travel agents to undertake an additional 30 minutes of study a week (which equates to just six more minutes of training each day) as research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills shows a 50% improvement in performance for those who take on training.
“CLIA has demonstrated that training can be fun, exciting and interactive, while research shows it has a positive impact on performance, and training can take on many guises: online courses, ship visits, workshops and conferences such as the CLIA Conference and the CLIA River Cruise Convention,” said Andy Harmer. “It is great news that the popularity of cruise holidays continues to grow; however, finding specific information about one area is becoming more challenging. MYCLIA Clubs will help in providing detailed sector information, including ships, destinations, itineraries and facilities, to those agents wishing to specialise.
“Ten years ago CLIA offered no on-line training – last year I am delighted to say that 38,000 online courses were completed by member travel agents and more than 2,100 attended CLIA events. This additional knowledge will have contributed to the 67% increase in the number of UK passengers taking a cruise holiday since 2005. Training Crusade will challenge agents to become more informed, which will lead to increased sales. I strongly believe that with the great ‘can do’ attitude shown by our CLIA members, anything is possible.”
More than 600 delegates, including 470 travel agents, attended the CLIA Conference in Southampton, which carried the theme ‘Cruise Revolution’.