Recently I was lucky enough to attend The Advantage Conference in Miami.
A key annual event in the travel industry calendar, the trip provided me with a great opportunity to catch up with lots of lovely travel agents from the UK, meeting with old friends and new, and to share the latest updates from Avalon Waterways.
With a range of insightful workshops on offer, I particularly enjoyed participating in an innovative cruise-focused training session that asked the audience to imagine themselves on board a cruise by getting them to tap into their senses. Of course, when selling cruise holidays, it is so important for travel agents to understand the product and experience that their customers are booking.
Therefore, by asking the delegates to think about what a cruise would feel like, what activities they would do on board and what the food would taste like, they were able to come away with a greater sense of what cruising is all about. It was fantastic to see the travel agent delegates engage so well with the activity – of course the champagne, canapés and chocolates in the intervals were a nice bonus!
Industry events, such as the recent Clia Conference focused on ‘#GenerationCruise’ (see p28), offer agents an unrivalled platform for networking, the chance to learn about new cruise products, gain insight into key industry trends and hear about any upcoming developments and incentives that are coming to market. I find the “speed‑dating” format particularly valuable and recommend that all agents make the most of the opportunity to meet with as many industry contacts as possible.
While the “freebies” are always nice, remember to focus on the information you want to glean from that supplier. Be sure to ask what’s new, what the bestselling itinerary is, what the key USPs for that cruise line are and so on. These events also provide a useful forum for agents to network and learn from their industry peers, such as learning how to sell cruise holidays to a broader audience across the generations. With cruise lines, both ocean and river, continuing to launch ever more impressive ships and more enriching itineraries that allow customers to explore further afield, it is a really exciting time for agents to be reaching out to the new-to-cruise audience. Our own Active Discovery cruises on three European rivers and our all-suite fleet in European fleet for 2019 are just one example of this.
As the travel industry changes quickly, it is more important than ever that agents attend as many industry events as possible to gain insight on what is new and happening within cruise. This information provides expertise that you can pass on to your customers.
Conferences take place all around the world, but there’s no need to travel too far. Utilise what is on your doorstep through the various roadshows, events and training days that take place in the UK.