FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – The mantra “We Care More” can be found painted on the walls of the worldwide headquarters of Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., yet this saying has never rang more true than now, when its employees, network of home-based travel agents and travel partners need to hear it most.
Everybody is craving social interaction and is anxious about the future. With a belief in transparency, the Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. leadership team has been providing business and industry updates daily through Town Halls, motivational webinars and a series of blog posts from Co-CEO/Chairman Brad Tolkin, Chief Operating Officer Debbie Fiorino and Senior Vice President/General Manager Drew Daly. Other educational content includes the ins and outs of virtual events so our agents can continue engaging with their clients. In addition, cruise line executives are hosting educational webinars to provide guidance on navigating this uncharted territory. All webinars are recorded to ensure every single agent has an opportunity to receive the information if they are unavailable to attend live.
Parent company World Travel Holdings has been a leader in the virtual workspace for more than a decade, so the corporate headquarters team was able to quickly deliver new virtual resources and tools. Previously scheduled in-person regional trainings and events have become interactive virtual conferences, enabling even more of our agents to attend and engage with the headquarters team while getting access to the same educational content the live events provided.
“We say it 365 days a year and during these unprecedented times, one thing has never changed – that our number one priority is taking care of our customers, and our customers are our Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. travel agents,” said Fiorino. “We are in the business of making business dreams become a reality, and this means making adjustments to ensure our agents can afford to stay in business while the industry is at a standstill.”
To ease the financial burden, agents have the option to defer their monthly fees for at least three months, as well as keep their administrative fees based on prior sales. Also, the company is helping its agents understand the opportunities provided to them through the CARES Act with one-on-one conversations, as part of its webinars and educational resources. As part of World Travel Holdings, a powerhouse in the cruise travel industry, the company advocates on behalf of its agents to ensure they receive their protected commissions.
As a result of the current environment, the supplier changes and promotional offers have become even more complex, so the headquarters team has created infographics, charts, videos and more to educate and support agents so they can readily assist their clients with Future Cruise Credits and get them rebooked.
“We are laser-focused on planning for the future and getting our agents prepared to handle the pent-up demand that we know will arise when people are able to start traveling again,” said Daly. “We are all in this together and rooting for the travel agent industry as a whole, we look forward to its resurgence.”
Training is also paramount for new travel agents, with in-person travel agent training now being conducted virtually, complete with an online video cruise tour. New agents are taking this time to work with their dedicated Business Development Manager to develop a business plan and learn the ins and outs of the industry, so they will be prepared when the industry rebounds.
In addition, the team is using their expertise to swiftly change direction in strategy, creating alternative engagement and marketing assets to support agents in staying in front of their clients. Leading by example to demonstrate what agents can do for their own clients, the Business Development Team has created weekly newsletters and is hosting virtual MeetUps, as a means of engagement. Marketing has taken an educational and aspirational approach, creating social media posts and a Virtual Travel Guide that educates consumers about why they need a travel agent now more than ever, while simultaneously inspiring them to dream about future travels.
“I have been a franchise owner of Dream Vacations for five years and this has been a very trying time professionally, but I am so thankful to have the support of my company headquarters,” said Dawn Beers O’Brien, Dream Vacations franchise owner and vacation specialist in San Jose, Calif. “In this time of uncertainty, having this support and encouragement is so important. I am eternally grateful to be a member of the Dream Vacations’ family.”'