By Michael Akana at Apr. 3. 2007.

      While waiting for the American Airlines flight Wednesday SFO to Miami, I asked to see the American Airlines Admirals Club. I got a short tour of the club, the computer room and they answered questions about the conference center. A similar request at nited’s Red Carpet got a “This is a members’ club.” I was impressed by the car cigarette lighter style DC power supplies in the main cabin of American Airlines. There were only a few, but they had ‘em.

      I flew into Miami and rented a car to Ft. Lauderdale. I used the car in Ft. Lauderdale less than I hoped, but it was great to have the freedom to drive up the coast one evening.

      Stayed at Holiday Inn Express. Was walking distance from the conference center, though I took the bus a few times. The fridge, microwave, free wireless internet, daily full towel change, coffee maker, computer and printer in the lobby, and continental breakfast met all of my needs.

      CLIA Education Seminar: Cruising… Knowing the World You Sell Overall review of geography and the how cruises are a great way to see the world.

      CLIA Education Seminar: Cruising: The Ultimate Incentive Wow. Dr. Marc Mancini substituted. His pinch hit showed mastery for the subject. Those who sell incentive travel make more money that those specializing in other markets. Dr. Mancini covered the history of incentives from the days of gold and green stamps to today’s modern incentive houses. He defined the market for travel agencies careful to layout the challenges as well as growing opportunities. Makes be want to order the CLIA videos. I understand he is one of the presenters. Many participants seemed to know him.

      FAM Trip–Paradise at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. If you missed this, you didn’t miss much. It was basically a bus ride to the Casino at 8:00 a coupon book and a choice of a ride back at 10:30 or midnight. No more. No less. Lots of shops. Lots of shows and venues for entertainment, choices of restaurants. Great light and water show in front. Kinda like a small Bellagio water show to music, only smaller and the lighting around the pond was set to music as well. I ordered dinner to go and made the early bus back.

      Booking Demo — Royal Caribbean International. There was a presentation of cruisingpower.com, but they lead with a comment that they would not be discussing Cruisematch. So, there really wasn’t any booking demo. Covered mostly other features of cruising power.

      Booking Demo—Amadeus (cruises), Presentation well done. Product froze a few times on user and presenter’s desktop. Product has great information on ships, comparison of ships and pricing.

      Booking Demo – Carnival. Best thing learned from presenter. On a foreign national with no pull down, it’s okay to (according to him) to use the originating city of your agency. Just be sure not to use a discounted rate for the state you are in. First name truncates to nine characters. Not a problem. Group gave feedback on wanting to have notification of completion of Fun Pass info by client and of mailing of documents.

      Destination workshop–Spain: Barcelona, Valencia. Scripted presentation, powerpoint slides.

      Destination Vancouver and British Columbia – Great review of the cruise terminals. Great overhead photos. No news on winter Olympics tickets.

      Also attended Princess Product Update and Cunard Product Update. Biggest thing that stood out was that the same reps were involved in both. The two are presented side by side. It wasn’t until boarding the QM2 that I saw distinct branding.

      Crystal Cruise update. Qualify your clients. Don’t assume they are shopping for the cheapest price. This workshop seemed the most personal. Even many of the photos were shot by the presenter and not just pulled from stock.

      Production of general sessions was very professional. Camera work, lighting and staging were well done. Most was in a Tonight Show format with Terry Dale, President and CEO of CLIA as host.

      Magic Johnson was captivating. He discussed his business strategies, his commitment to the consumer and to the urban minority market. His talk was very personal. During the Cruise Visionaries portion, the audience sent a clear message with applause when Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises said MSC gives 10% commission on excursions booked in advance in response to input from travel agents. Others emphasized the need for the travel agents and the whole cruise industry to tell the public about the good things cruising is doing for the environment for development of foreign ports or call.

      Forum on small ships. Affluent luxury clients who wish to descend from the clouds to be seen by the masses may enjoy a large suite on a lower end product. Those with more means may enjoy a Grills accommodations on Cunard, but those who want a country club experience with other who are like themselves will appreciate the small ship experience.

      At the Hall of Fame dinner there was a production from RCCL, improvisational comedians from NCL, and a full production from Carnival.

      Scott Koepf, of Nexion/Jurni held up well during a comparison of consortiums to meatloaf where host Terry Dale got his hands wet with making meatloaf from his mother’s recipe.

      The general sessions had varied formats and addressed a variety of topics. There were discussions of safety and environmental concerns. Talk of norovirus and other health concerns. There was a clear presence of home based agents and issues related to home based operations came up a number of times.

      Check out CLIA’s press release for more. http://www.cruising.org/cruisenews/news.cfm?NID=257

      One-on-One Appointments—I did not schedule any one on ones, but I was able to ask workshop facilitators questions during and after the workshop. These are the same reps that are available for one on one. One on one appointments were at the trade show booths.

      Trade show……. Disney wins for best experience. Stand in line and then….. crew offer to hold you bags while you get a photo with Mickey or Minnie, you are handed your bags back along with a framed Polaroid photo and a virgin pina colada. It was like a whirlwind ride. Quick but memorable. Compare with RCCL which also had a line, but some agents struggled to set aside bags for picture and then spend a while recollecting themselves. Photo is online with an ID tag to pick it up. Celebrity has “secret agents” giving away mission instructions to find the booth to get a t-shirt. Good idea, but it was clear they had no idea who was an agent so they hadto ask. Those that said yes got a shirt. Others were told they hadto be agents first. A whirlwind tour of the trade show could bedone in 2 hours.

      Cunard and Princess Commodore Reception. Gavin McLeod mingled among commodores, gave a very personal speech about his background and experience with Princess.

      Food, food, food…… plenty of general session meals, meals aboard ship, and receptions. I think I bought only about 4 meals on my own, though I might have gotten by with two with better lanning. The Holiday Inn Express was fine for my needs and offered a passable continental breakfast in the mornings. I did bring granola bars for the back to back seminars. There was plenty of water throughout and coffee in the morning.

      Achieving the institute track was easy for those who came for the two Thursday sessions. Institute Track earns 50 CLIA points in addition to the points for events that are attended. It is also one of two paths toward MCC certification. You must either do an Institute Track or 3 Case studies.

      The rules of the Institute Track on the cruise3sixty site.

      1. Two three hour CLIA workshops.
      2. Attend the trade show.
      3. attend a destination workshop
      4. attend a booking demo and
      5. attend another workshop using the technology center
        (a second booking demo qualifies.)

      You get a “passport” to get stamped upon completion of each event. I still have to mail in my exams for the CLIA workshops and pass. The passport can be included in the Captain’s Log when I have completed my other ACC requirements. What is not clear is whether the excess credits earned for ACC can could toward MCC since I did not sign up for both at the same time. The Captain’s Log book for ACC/MCC contradicts itself. Saying that MCC credits can not be earned until credit is complete, the log book is submitted and MCC enrollment has begun, but it also says to record excess credit for MCC consideration. In any case, I chose to participate in the Institute Track and was able to complete it by the end of the afternoon on Friday.

      There was a huge choice of ships available for inspection and a variety of choices in how to combine inspections. Inspection time was from about 11 to about 2:15. You could sign up for one or two ships. With one you had the most time to have lunch and see the whole ship. With two, the timing was much more compressed. I chose to fill in two wherever possible so as to fulfill ACC ship inspection requirements in one day.

      Here are the ships….

      • Caribbean Princess *
      • Carnival Legend
      • Carnival Liberty
      • Constellation
      • Costa Magica *
      • Costa Mediterranea
      • Enchantment of the Seas
      • Freedom of the Seas
      • Jewel of the Seas
      • MSC Opera
      • Norwegian Jewel
      • Queen Mary 2 *
      • Radiance of the Seas *
      • Seabourn Legend
      • Star Princess *
      • Volendam
      • Westerdam
      • Zuiderdam

      Some were at the port of Miami. All of my inspections were at the Port Everglades, just behind the conference center. Back to back inspections, along with the side by side trade show booths were a great way to get a flavor of the brands and of individual ships.

      Radiance of the Seas * Embarkation and disembarkation was a bit confused. Greeting from staff began aboard ship. As there were multiple groups aboard, instructions for where to go were confused. I stuck with a seasoned agent who had experience with confused scheduling. Got to see a bit of the ship before hitting the buffet. I like the way the buffet was spread out with lots of choices. Theatres closed.

      Star Princess * Greeting from staff began on the dock. Ship maps were included along with a letter and list of recommended highlights to visit including cabins available for inspection. Short delay in managing id’s on embarkation, but otherwise very well organized. Familiar Princess faces on the dock and onboard from their participation in conference events. Buffet seemed very crowded.

      Caribbean Princess * Good food. Excellent service. Of the five inspections I went on this was the best. Plenty of time to view whole ship including accommodation and theatres prior to lunch in a designated dining room where we were served full courses from shrimp appetizer to salad, choice of fish or beef and a chocolate soufflé. Ship maps were included along with a letter and list of recommended highlights to visit including cabins available for inspection. Familiar Princess faces on the dock and onboard from their participation in conference events. Boarding and disembarkation were quick, easy and painless.

      Costa Magica * Glad to have inspected the Magica. It is not the ship for me. European decor was fine, though parts of the ship came off as gaudy. Biggest thing was presence of the smell of cigarette smoke everywhere and very strong in areas of lounges with ashtrays. Most tables were designated as non-smoking, but smoke carries…. The piling and sorting of luggage in the public areas seemed odd. I was disoriented for a moment going from small compartment to small compartment, not sure of the way forward or the way out. The Costa Magica may be appropriate for smokers, those who want an Italian feel or are comfortable with staff and passengers who speak a variety of languages with may or may not include English. Other agents had a much more positive feel for the brand.

      Queen Mary 2 * Bus scheduled to depart 10:30. Ship did not clear customs until 12:15. Lunch in the Britannia Dining Room. Excellent food. Good service. Carol Marlow, President of Cunard came by each table to welcome us aboard. A short tour of the bottom two decks followed. No view of Grills nor accommodations.

      A few notes on inspections. Agents who may not have brought the same ID as registered seemed to be allowed boarding. Ships could not be boarded until cleared by Customs. Be prepared to sit for a while. Each ship has different rules. If they say stay with the guide, then do so, unless you wish to be asked to disembark. Only one Windstar ship dropped out from inspections. Conference ID are used to prove that inspections were performed. We were instructed not to bring ACC/MCC logbooks.

      Biggest news items…..

      Over 2,000 agents attended. CLIA is thinking about a similar event on the west coast. RCCL announced the University of WOW. Available as of April 1st.

      Not sure if it’s news, but CLIA has a Luxury Cruise Specialist Certification. There is some course work and specific experience requirements, but it shouldn’t be too difficult for those who have achieved ACC.

      Check out the cruise3sixty.com site for more on the schedule. Check out the press releases at cruising.org

      Easy to meet people and strike up conversations whether with fellow home agents, seasoned owners of brick and mortar shops, presenters, or sales reps.

      May post more as I go through notes and materials, but now have lots of work to catch up on. Love to hear perspectives of others.

      Bill and Lewis—It was good to meet face to face. Margie—Sorry we didn’t get to meet. I got caught up in the awards dinner and didn’t check my phone ’til well after.

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