FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA – More than 800 travel advisors attended the virtual Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. 2020 Vision National Conference, which raised more than $50,000 for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida and celebrated the accomplishments from the past year while looking to the future with optimism. Attendees walked away with a clear vision for the future - whether it was hearing inspirational words of encouragement or gaining knowledge on how to leverage impressive new features in existing programs that provide turnkey resources and increase efficiencies in business operations.
Martech, also known as marketing technology, played a key role in directing the pivots that took place in technology and marketing. Vice President of Information Technology Sandi Szalay shared that a key focus in 2020 was the day-to-day support of the network and delivering enhancements meant to help during these unprecedented times. These enhancements included a program to track Future Supplier Credits for cruise and land vacations; a new sales reporting tool for tracking business more effectively, which now includes cancellations, as well as the ability to see how much revenue or commission one is expected to make based on any timeframe, including next year’s departures; online consumer payments allowing people to book and pay directly on consumer websites; and in collaboration with the marketing team, the addition of a personalized Luxury Villas website in response to the increased demand for ultra-private, domestic vacations. Szalay and Alicia Linden, director of marketing, also revealed a new robust mass email marketing solution for on-demand and automated email messages that will strengthen customer engagement, retention and loyalty.
“With a focus on customer engagement, we not only leveraged internal analytics and performance indicators to make data-driven decisions, but we listened to our travel advisors, who in our business are the ‘front line’ heroes…the one’s speaking with clients every day,” said Linden. “With all these considerations in place, that’s how we determine when and how to shift our messaging. We monitor customer demands so we can ensure we’re maintaining our customer engagement rates by providing help and comfort, as well as joyful distractions. We delivered consistent and relevant messages to maintain a dominant presence and stay top of mind with customers.”
Understanding your customer is key to running a successful business and Linden shared two enhancements to existing programs that will help agents follow up, have focused conversations with their clients and ultimately make the sale. As a result of using a new virtual platform, agents will now receive detailed information about who attends the corporate-hosted Virtual Travel Events, which have become a signature way for Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. to partner with suppliers to provide exclusive offers and educate consumers about their products. In addition, to complement the shopping cart abandonment program which triggers a series of automated emails to customers shopping on websites, agents will now receive real-time notifications about customers who are receiving these emails and shopping on their websites.
Senior Vice President and General Manager Drew Daly delivered a motivational keynote address that inspired attendees to take a holistic approach to personal and professional development. He encouraged attendees to take an introspective look at the past year, live in the present, stay positive, express gratitude and seize ownership of one’s own time as they build their 2021 business plans.
While the annual Awards Program normally celebrates top performers, this year the entire network was recognized for their resilience and innovative methods of overcoming the hurdles this year presented. The evening was a reminder that despite the challenges of this past year, there is still much to celebrate.
Each year, National Conference attendees and suppliers come together to raise funds for signature charity Make-A-Wish, to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. This year was no different with attendees participating in a Virtual Run/Walk and raising more than $50,000 to enrich the lives of 10 children with critical illnesses.
The 2021 National Conference will be held November 13 – 20, 2021, aboard Celebrity Apex.