Royal Caribbean today announced enhanced programs, as part of the cruise line’s Travel Agent Appreciation Month, to support its travel agent partners in selling cruises and servicing their clients. New FAM Weekends and enhancements to the University of WOW! will offer travel agents more opportunities and flexibility to further their professional development, while the enhanced eConnect will help them better sell to clients. Through Royal Caribbean’s training programs, travel agents can earn up to 47 Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) credits and up to ten Travel Institute credits toward their annual certifications.
“Royal Caribbean International is continuously working to support our travel agent partners and helping them grow profits and increase their business,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president, Sales, Support and Trade Services. “The new enhancements to Royal Caribbean’s training and development programs will go a long way to empower travel agents and generate more sales. We are also offering Travel Agent Appreciation promotions in April, such as travel agent rates of 25 percent off, and two additional Group Amenities Plus points on many itineraries from September 2009 onwards.”
The annual Travel Agent Appreciation Month specially recognizes travel agents and the important role they play in supporting Royal Caribbean International. Royal Caribbean launched Travel Agent Appreciation Month with a spectacular event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, yesterday evening, treating travel agents to an Oasis of the Seas’ AquaTheater experience. As part of the festivities, the cruise line’s Adam Goldstein, president and CEO, in his role as the President of the Nation of Why Not inducted more than 900 travel agents as Ambassadors of the Nation. The recently launched brand campaign emphasizes the variety of unexpected “Why Not” moments guests can experience on a Royal Caribbean vacation, offering them experiences at sea that they could not do on land.
New eConnect enhancements help travel agents create the most interactive and personalized eQuotes to help increase sales and market to new customers. eQuotes include full travel agency details and logo, dynamic pricing, send-to-a friend functionality and now single, triple, and quad pricing in a professional design that travel agents can send directly to their clients from CruisingPower.com.
Royal Caribbean has increased the flexibility of the University of WOW!, the cruise line’s online professional development program. Travel agents who have reached Expert level can now choose how they wish to continue their training in order to achieve Expert Plus and earn incentives along the way. They can choose to complete advanced online modules and electives in any order to concentrate on topics they feel is important to their business goals. Upon completion, travel agents will earn five credits toward their CLIA certification.
New Royal Caribbean webinars will help travel professionals sharpen their vacation selling skills beyond the useful training offered by the University of WOW! Hosted by Royal Caribbean’s sales training executives, the webinars feature advanced topics such as unlocking the power of CruiseMatch, developing and selling themed cruises, and strategies during economic downturns. Travel agents tuning-in to the live webinar can engage the presenter with questions that delve deeper into the featured topics for more individual applications. All webinars are archived so travel agents can access the informative sessions at their convenience or return to a past session to review when needed. Webinars are scheduled every month to cover a variety of current topics and business opportunities.
For travel agents who find it difficult to disengage from their business to participate in the cruise line’s Seminar at Sea program, Royal Caribbean’s new FAM Weekends will help time-strapped travel professionals experience the cruise line without dedicated time out at sea. FAM Weekends bring travel agents to port cities throughout the country, including Royal Caribbean’s Miami headquarters, to meet with executives, learn more about the cruise line, and tour ships. A nominal participation fee covers the cost of transfers, lodging, and most meals during the weekend, and even provides time to explore the city as the pre- and post-cruise destination. Travel agents can earn two CLIA credits upon completion of a FAM weekend or up to 40 CLIA credits and 10 Travel Institute credits for Seminar at Sea.
In addition to traditional ways of engaging travel agents, Royal Caribbean is also leveraging new media to help drive consumer interest and generate travel agent sales. Vicki’s Top Picks offer travel agents weekly vacation deals for clients, chosen by the senior vice president of Sales herself. Quarterly conference calls with Vicki and Ken Muskat, vice president of Sales, discuss relevant and timely issues with travel agents across North America. Why Not Talk Cruise with Ken Muskat will kick off its first online radio season on April 10 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on VoiceAmerica.com, offering vacationers a lively talk show weekly about the world of cruising and the benefits of using a travel agent, featuring guests stars ranging from President and CEO Adam Goldstein to media, travel and other experts.
Royal Caribbean is also re-launching OasisoftheSeas.com. The site will feature a new series of webisodes about the making of Oasis of the Seas, the highly anticipated world’s largest and most revolutionary cruise ship, and offer details of the ship’s neighborhoods, press releases, renderings, imagery and videos. A new weekly Chairman’s Blog also will offer personal perspectives from Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and guest commentary from Adam Goldstein; Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, Maritime, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; and others involved with project.