Cruise Holidays – North America’s oldest and largest cruise-specialty retail franchise network that has now served travelers for 25 years – formally unveiled plans for its evolution to maintain its edge, as well as further success and strength, over the next quarter of a century.  Cruise advice and consultation focused on giving consumers a total cruise vacation experience will remain as the essential core of the travel services provided; in addition, Cruise Holidays will expand to offer more land-based vacation options and has created a formalized training and education program to support this product diversification called the Cruise Holidays Certified Travel Specialist Program.  The details were announced at the 2008 Cruise Holidays Annual Convention held aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Pearl, October 19-26, 2008.

“We know cruising, we know our clients, and we have listened to what they are saying.  They value the customized service, specialized expertise and one-on-one travel consulting we provide to them and they are looking for more of it,” stated Peter D. Thomson, Vice President and COO of Cruise Holidays. “Many of our customers cruise regularly, but in recognition of their desire to continue using our expertise even when taking other types of vacations, we are expanding our reach with offerings to provide further value in meeting their ongoing vacation needs.”

The Cruise Holidays Certified Travel Specialist Program has been specially designed to support the network’s diversification by building the sales skills of frontline agents in land and cruise vacations, destinations, niche markets and preferred suppliers.  In order to achieve this rigorous designation, Cruise Holidays experts will be required to complete 200 credits in five key areas:
· Sales and Service
· Cruise Sales
· Destination Knowledge
· Lifestyle Knowledge
· Preferred Supplier Knowledge

The travel industry’s most respected, leading educational organizations will be incorporated into this program and the education and training opportunities will consist of a combination of workshops, net conferences, symposiums and conferences, in-store or regional training sessions, self-study programs, and online programs.

“First and foremost, our goal is to continue to provide unparalleled expertise and knowledge to our clients.  They entrust us with their vacation dreams and their hard-earned dollars, and this is our way of proactively demonstrating to them that their travel experience means as much to us as it does to them,” added Thomson.  “In addition, we need to continue to set ourselves apart from the competition and provide additional ways for our Cruise Holidays franchisees to continue to be profitable. By diversifying and adding a select group of land-based vacation suppliers who offer exclusive benefits and field support to our stores in both Canada and the U.S., we will become more valuable to our clients.”