The plans started back in June of this year, when I was invited to attend and participate at Travel Weekly Magazine’s yearly Cruise World in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This was a first for me. The invitation came at a very perfect time since I had just made a career decision to add training and mentoring to my life to give back to our industry that I have been a part of for over 35 years.
What was I going to speak on? Once I had selected my topic, how could I make sure I shared meaningful and beneficial experiences to hard working travel professionals and not just a re-hash of ideas that have been worked to death? I looked back at the almost three years of columns I had writing for the publication right here at Home Based Travel but I wanted to speak on a topic that was timely and encompassed the new ways of doing business.
Then I found it, Personal Branding or Branding Yourself. This is the newest way that service professionals like insurance salespeople, real estate brokers and even lawyers were marketing and seeing themselves. They were recreating themselves as their own brand. It seemed like a perfect fit for travel people who work so personally and closely with their clients so I went with it.
I set out on researching and creating a 60 minute Peer to Peer seminar which would be actually the start of my new additional career hat. I wanted to create a feeling of sharing experiences. Six or seven updates and re-writes later my opus was ready to present and I was ready for my trip to Florida.
One good thing about living in Las Vegas is that Southwest Airlines offers many non-stop flights to cities most others don’t and Fort Lauderdale has been one of those for many years. I was anxious to meet up with my sales partner, Ned, who actually lives in a 1930’s beach cottage not far from the Cruise World action at the convention center. We work together virtually but very rarely see each other face to face.
Thinking back on the presentation, I realized I needed to take the subject to another level and actually go thru the process of rebranding my own self as not only an aging cruise travel sales professional but now a coach and mentor.
I followed by own lead by developing a new brand which I now call Craig Satterfield Cruise Scholar, taking advantage of my status as a CLIA Cruise Counselor Scholar. I created a logo with the help of the creative on line options at VistaPrint, a Facebook page which proudly boasts 15 likes, and started on the yet to be published website under www.CruiseScholar.com which I was relieved was still available.
I knew I could not relate to my own program if I had not actually experienced the building of it a couple of weeks before I left for Florida. I am so happy I did.
After arriving via Southwest Tuesday evening, had a quick bite with Ned and rested up for the big event the next morning. Wednesday came and after arriving at the Convention Center slipped into a class room with Heidi from CLIA with two of her latest training programs. That was a great way to start since I had to pass all CLIA training sessions to become a Scholar.
After a turkey sandwich lunch paid for by Holland America, there were several good options for training for the rest of the afternoon put on by Norwegian Cruise Lines, Starwood Hotels and an excellent one which we don’t see very often presented by Special Needs Group.
The general session opened with the big shot from Carnival Cruises, which was another thing you don’t normally see. He was only the first cruise line big shot that would show up over the next few days.
The first day ended with a Think Tank session moderated by Mary Pat Sullivan and our own Joanie Ogg. Vicky and Dondra from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity where there too. This is the think tank which now has the reputation of having the moderators run around with their microphones barefoot. They do all the work and you can just sit there, raise your hand, and that these ladies run over to you. What a nice, if not fleeting, feeling of power. Overall the audience seemed to like what the two host cruise lines were doing since it didn’t turn out to be a bitching session, but actually a very creative hour with emphasis on co-op advertising and how to get it.
Day two continued with more training sessions of your choice, another big shot at the main session along with more cruise line kingpins well moderated by Mary Pat and Joanie followed by a really nicely attended trade show.
So now we are at day 3. My day! My day as well as about a dozen other non-executives types, aka real travel professionals ready to pull the stops out to help our brother and sister agents with our experience in sales and market.
This is where you could really meet members of our Home Based Travel Community as so many of us are willing and eager to share expertise with you. Joanie moderated a panel regarding business evolution and change. I was the oldest on the panel so I guess I have seen the most evolution! I was thrilled to get new ideas on how to run travel business in these modern times and I think the audience was very happy about it too. One of my fellow panelists was doing a beer theme cruise!
The morning and afternoon continued with more breakout sessions. From what I was told, agents helping other agents were the most valuable to the majority of professionals who are home based.
A highlight of the afternoon was Joanie’s How Your Peers Achieve Marketing Success in conjunction with Tom and Joanie Ogg’s new book on the same subject. The room was jammed with more than 140 eager learners. As a bonus everyone got a copy of the book treated by the Ogg’s!
Now comes 3:15PM. The time had come for me. All of my rewriting, rehearing and rehashing didn’t matter now. I was ready to present and excited and not nervous. Weather I was in a fool’s paradise is yet to be proven. They came in. People from our community, even some top sales gurus from the host agencies that were there and the interesting Captain Lou, who would be presenting next. I was told we had 130 people in the room. I was happy to learn that after the session was over!
The presentation came off pretty good. I had to field questions which I figured was a good sign. The best sign was that nobody left!
Well I made it thru the premier of Craig Satterfield Cruise Scholar’s first official presentation. As soon as it was over, I started making some notes on what I wanted to improve and add so I knew I was made for this.
I hope that those that read this and were there agree.
The following two days were reserved for ship inspections. I finally got to visit Allure of the Seas. I am still trying to figure out how she can actually float?