FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – On the second full day at sea of its National Conference aboard Norwegian Bliss, Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. demonstrated how it provides its travel agents with a competitive advantage by developing innovative technology, collaborating with national lifestyle brands and creating engagement programs with the travel agent’s best interests in mind.
“We lead the travel agent franchise industry in satisfaction ratings because we not only listen to our agents and respond to their feedback, but we also make major investments that will take them into the future and ultimately assist them in driving revenue and becoming more successful,” said Debbie Fiorino, senior vice president of Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. “We are obsessively transforming the travel agent experience through our technology and programs that are always created with the sole intent of helping our agents run their business more seamlessly. My leadership team consists of experts who know how to drive change and innovate in order to achieve results.”
By remaining ahead of the customer, Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. invested in developing a technology solution to allow its agents to book land vacations and eliminate friction in the booking process. Vice President of Information Technology Sandi Szalay unveiled this new proprietary technology that transforms how Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. agents book travel. Having an all-in-one booking platform to do everything from quoting to booking on any device is what agents have been asking for. Included in the enhanced booking platform that now allows agents to easily book land vacations as well, is an integrated solution with an itinerary builder. Also available is an interactive mobile app that allows agents to communicate with clients, share travel documentation for upcoming trips and track flight status real-time. Szalay commented “When designing technology it is critical to provide an end product that delivers a seamless experience. By streamlining the booking process whether it be cruise or land, we continue to provide the best booking experience in the travel franchise space from start to finish and giving agents back more time to sell.”
Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships Rosemarie Reed and Director of Marketing Kimberly Faiello as always delivered the “wow” factor. They heated things up with the announcement that headquarters will be paying 100 percent of the cost for direct mail in 2019 for Dream Vacations and CruiseOne travel agent franchise owners. They didn’t stop there, things got even better with the announcement of strategic lifestyle partnerships with four well-known consumer brands – online wine retailer Wine.com, high-end luggage outfitter Tumi, Swarovski crystals and travel apparel line Beyond Proper. Through reciprocal marketing with these new partners, Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. will be connecting its existing customers with other desirable brands to create memorable life-affirming experiences. Plus, alliances with these major, nationally recognized brands will drive more revenue, growth and customer loyalty. Reed noted “Partnerships are essential for growth. When multiple brands come together and leverage their resources and expertise to mutually benefit each other, synergies are created that ultimately result in a better customer experience.”
Recognizing that sales engagement and recognition are important drivers of success, Vice President of Engagement Dustin Jones revealed a refreshed awards and recognition program that is specially designed with the home-based travel advisor in mind. Achievement levels will be updated in real time, featuring specific benefits that offer training and engagement opportunities catered to each level’s needs.
Top-producing travel advisors from Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. took to the main stage in a travel agent panel moderated by Vice President of Engagement Dustin Jones. Agents David Operach, Mike Ziegenbalg, Alex Greene and Melissa Cohn shared personal success stories, advice on marketing and overcoming objections, and their travel industry predictions for 2019.
Top Travel Agents Recognized During Awards Ceremony
It was a night of jubilation when Norwegian Cruise Line rolled out the red carpet aboard Norwegian Bliss at the annual National Conference awards ceremony for Cruises Inc., CruiseOne and Dream Vacations agents. Hosted by Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance, and Joelle Delva, vice president of operations, the entertaining ceremony recognized top performers. The small screen was brought to the stage with their own travel rendition of classic TV game show Family Feud, featuring top executives from World Travel Holdings and cruise lines competing against each other
The evening was a celebration of accomplishments and a demonstration of gratitude. More than 100 agents were recognized for their achievements in sales, marketing, public relations, social media, IT and more, as well as for their dedication and commitment to serving the network on committees. Additionally, a record number of agents were inducted into the 2018 Circle of Excellence, the highest achievement for CruiseOne and Dream Vacations.
Under the leadership of franchise owner Susan Pretkus-Combs, Dream Vacations – Combs, Catalina & Associates of Trabuco Canyon, Calif. was recognized as the Dream Vacations Franchise of the Year, while Melissa Cohn of Dix Hills, N.Y. received the Cruises Inc. Agent of the Year award. In addition, the home-based travel agencies announced that Dream Vacations Franchise Owner Becky Piper was recognized as the third “Godmother of National Conference,” for her significant contributions to the network for the past 22 years. For the second year in a row, the home-based travel agencies awarded the Travel Partner Superhero Award to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the industry and is committed to supporting travel agents - this year’s honoree was Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways.