Travel Professional NEWS
Trade shows are a part of any industry, whether it be for a hard product, networking or to share your business, these events can not only be profitable but amazing for education. While Cruiseworld 2015 was my first convention in the Travel Industry, I come from about 20 trade show in my last career so,I am no novice in this arena of setting of booths, standing on your feet for 18 hours, and then having the joy of packing it all back in for the trip home. Needless to say, I had an idea of what to expect in Fort Lauderdale for Travel Weekly’s Cruiseworld, but upon my return home, I shouldn’t have had any expectations because this show blew them all out of the water.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday after a long day of cramped quarters at 36,000 feet. Our arrival was greeted with warm and humid weather which resembled a steam room at your local gym. We settled in and grabbed a bite to eat and prepared for the festivities to begin the following day.
The show commenced on Wednesday and I immediately was in awe of the pride and display in which Cruiseworld was constructed. Agents were easily guided to concurrent educational sessions taking place with options to ensure that no matter what you wanted to gain education on, there was something up your alley. The hour long sessions were not only well arranged, but also very informational. Sessions ranged from destination specific discussions, topics to grow your business, as well as panels to learn more about suppliers or hosts. I was able to attend several sessions the first day and throughly enjoyed each and every one of them.
The General Sessions were sponsored and included, not only amazing food, but also a very engaging and informational presentation. One of the most notable from Wednesday was Arnold Donald, Chief Executive Office, Carnival Cruise Lines who not only gave Agents a fantastic amount of information but also released information about Fathom, Carnivals newest line focusing on assisting countries in need, while on your trip. The idea was amazing and the possibilities for church retreats, missions, and much more as an Agent are endless! Fathom could quite easily be the next wave in destination enriched travel by not only visiting but making a positive impact on it.
The following day contained a similar outline with breakfast provided by Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean. The concurrent sessions provided more education and valuable information for Travel Professionals that extends far past the show into the future of success and growth. host agencies, suppliers, destinations and fellow agents not only showed and shared their success but were there to assist in yours as well! A lunch provided by Discover proved to be the format for the CEO’s of some of the major Cruise Lines to have their Mastermind Sales and Marketing panel.
The panel was moderated by Mary Pat Sullivan and my mother, Joanie Ogg. To say that these two have chemistry on stage is an understatement. It’s like watching two twins playing good and bad. They did an amazing job and the panel was a success through and through with interesting questions and awesome stories from the panel members. This panel consisted of Vicki Freed of Royal Caribbean International, Eva Jenner of Holland America Line and Seabourn, Ken Muskat of MSC Cruises, Adolfo Pérez of Carnival Cruise Line, Dondra Ritzenthaler of Celebrity Cruises and Randall Soy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. These competitors represented themselves more as friends and provided priceless information regarding their lines and the future. Across the board, this powerful panel was there to support Travel Professionals and were constantly thankful for the Agents in attendance. Fear not, the Travel Professional is on a growing trend!
The Exhibitor Showcase followed the panel and the layout was welcoming and well thought out. With booths from suppliers, destinations, tour operators, host agencies, and resorts, the options were endless on what to learn about. The showcase was just the right amount of time as any longer and I was going to be making a bed under our table for a nap. Travel Weekly and Cruiseworld put on a great showcase with great organization and entertainment.
The last day, Friday, held a lot of excitement. Trisept Solutions provided a great breakfast and educated the agents on their new Xcelerator program. This new offering is a game changer and had the audience captivated with it’s huge ability to ease the life of many Travel Professionals. I was fortunate enough to be able to be a helping hand and audience member to my mother, Joanie Ogg, in her session “Fast Track to Success – Establishing & Managing Your Home Based Travel Business.” To say that she delivered the best session at Cruiseworld may be slightly bias being her son and all, nonetheless, I stand behind it. Her session was packed with people standing along the sides and back of the hall and seeing her on stage was simply awesome. As a son, it was a special moment for me.
Both my mother and I were moderating a River Cruise and Small Ship panel in the afternoon so I took a break from the show to gather my thoughts and grab a bite to eat. Before we knew it, we were on and the panelists were amazing. We had Mayra Donate of All Leisure Holidays, Terri A. Haas, CTC of Star Clippers, Nicola Iannone of CroisiEurope, Alexis Puma of Windstar, of Steven R. Spivak, Tauck and Cindy Sullivan, Avalon Waterways on the discussion and all of the participants were great on stage and provided invaluable information to the large audience. Being my first Cruiseworld, I was honored to moderate the panel and am grateful for the assistance from the Travel Weekly staff in doing so.
All in all, Cruiseworld is much different than trade shows in my last industry, however, the exhaustion level is similar. The difference that I felt at Cruiseworld was that I was mentally tired from being stimulated by such great discussions and information instead of just been physically exhausted. To say that we have some amazing individuals in the Travel Industry doesn’t do it justice and we have PHENOMENAL people. The entire staff at Travel Weekly / Cruiseworld were amazing and I feel honored to have met them and begin a long working relationship.
My suggestion, if you didn’t go this year, put it on your calander now and don’t miss it. It has an amazing aura around the show and not only is there tons of information and education available but the interaction between Travel Professionals sets this show aside. It was a pleasure to meet so many agents part of our community, www.TravelProfessionalCommunity.com and to put a face to the name that we see posting online.
Thank you to Travel Weekly and Cruiseworld for including me in this amazing event and I have already put it on my calendar for 2016. November 9-11, 2016 – Save that date!