Association and Events

CruiseWorld 2017 – The Ultimate Experience for Travel Professionals 

Written By: Andy Ogg – Editor for Travel Professional NEWS 


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Where else can a Travel Professional shake hands with Presidents of the top Cruise Lines? Where can you not only learn but engage with the top suppliers in the world? Where else is training, education and partnerships created in just a few days? Well the answer from our experience, is CruiseWorld! 


Taking place November 15th through 17th, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the show not only was a success but continues to improve each and every year. Joanie Ogg and I were not only excited for this years event but ready for it as we headed south to the beautiful San Diego airport. As we made our way east, I remembered our experiences in years past. In 2015, my first CruiseWorld, I was in awe of the level of professionalism and organization that the Travel Weekly events team executed. As I enjoyed my first CruiseWorld experience, I remember leaving with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and pride in our business. The next year I approached CruiseWorld much like a lion into the African jungle, I knew what to expect and I was beyond excited to tackle the opportunities that are in abundance at this fantastic show. I did just that and made more connections than I could have made anywhere else.  


This year our arrival in Fort Lauderdale kicked the event into motion and while I had a great idea of what to expect, I was again taken back by the finely tuned execution of this massive opportunity. The Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center is a perfect for this event and not only feels open and spacious but also advocates the opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues from all over this wonderful world.  


As Wednesday shifted into gear, I had some errands to run in preparation for the trade show portion the following day so I was unable to attend some of the sessions in the morning, however, I was able to make it just in time for the General Session. Hosted by the amazing Mary Pat Sullivan and our very own Joanie Ogg. The ladies took the stage and just rocked it. Their witty and light hearted humor kept the crowd chuckling and engaged with the amazing information being provided by the powerful panelists on stage.   


Chris Austin, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing & Sales, Seabourn, John Chernesky, Vice President of North America Sales, Princess Cruises and Cunard Line, Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International, Eva Jenner, Vice President, North America Sales, Holland America Line, Joe Jiffo, Senior Vice President, Sales MSC Cruises, Camille Olivere, Senior Vice President, Norwegian Cruise Line, Adolfo Perez, Vice President, Sales and Trade Marketing, Carnival Cruise Line, and lastly Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support and Service, UK & APAC, Celebrity Cruises were on the stage for the Mastermind Sales & Marketing Secrets of Success panel. Not only were these executives professional but also open to sharing some personal information about themselves which the crowd not only appreciated, but loved!  


From interviewing to execution, sales to marketing and just about everything in between, every single agent in the crowd was given tips, tricks and empowering information to help them grow their business to the next level. As many Travel Professionals vigorously took notes, recorded the event on their phones or just soaked it in, the entire room had their eyes focused on the Masterminds and will no doubt, reap rewards from the information shared.  


Following the Mastermind session, the concurrent Destination Roundtable began and this new format provided a fantastic education course for every single Travel Professional looking to broaden their horizons by offering new and exciting destinations.  The first discussion focused on the Caribbean and was hosted by the gracious Vicky Garcia of Cruise Planners, An American Express Representative. On stage Vicky spoke to Glenda E Johnson, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, Tia Broomes, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., Chris Austin, Seabourn, and Raquel Reyes, Dominican Republic Tourism Board.  


Moving on to our personal favorite, Mexico & Latin America, which was moderated by Jackie Friedman, Nexion, LLC. Jackie is no stranger to the stage and her expertise shined through while on stage with Scott Radesi, Playa Hotels & Resorts, Susana Iakovliev, Nicaragua Tourism Board, Marc Harrison, Encounter Latin America and Nancy Logan, Pleasant Holidays.  


Avoya Travel is no stranger to the Travel Industry and Scott Koepf is no stranger to rocking the crowd. After recently singing the National Anthem at the ASTA Global Conference in San Diego, California, Scott took the stage to discuss the insanely hot topic of Europe. Joined on stage with Ashley Vaughan, Trafalgar, Brendan Vacations and Costsaver, Terri A Haas, CTC, Star Clippers, Jana Tvedt, Riviera River Cruises and Stephanie Roles, Intrepid Group, Scott not only lead a great discussion but had the crowd paying close attention with fantastic information. 


The last Destination Discussion was hosted by our good friend, Jenn Lee of Travel Planners International for a great look into our own backyard, the USA. Joining Jenn on stage, Kristin Coryn, Visit St. Petersburg, Joel Cohen, New York City Vacation Packages, Thomas Valley, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and Christina Aldanese, Hawaii Tourism United States, spoke of great insights on amazing destinations that are just a short flight away from reality.  


Now if you’ve ever been to CruiseWorld, you may know about the Think Tank and if you don’t, well you are missing out. Once again Mary Pat Sullivan and Joanie Ogg joined by Joni Rein of Scenic US River Cruises took the floor. Now one of the best parts of this Think Tank is that it’s lovingly become the “barefoot” event of the week. With the bar open and the shoes off, Mary Pat and Joanie ran all through the huge crowd of agents to facilitate a fantastic conversation directly between Travel Professionals and Joni, who handled every single questions like a true professional. From Millennial River Cruising to marketing insights, information at this years Think Tank was amazing for all who attended.  


As Wednesday came to a close, we found ourselves quickly gassed and ready to recharge for the next day. After a great nights sleep at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale, we were able to enjoy a fantastic breakfast sponsored by MSC Cruises. During the great meal, Joe Jiffo, Senior Vice President of Sales, North America, MSC Cruises shared some very exciting things coming for Travel Professionals from MSC. Make sure to stay tuned to Travel Professional NEWS for more information coming soon!  


As agents made their ways to the Sponsored Workshops, provided by the best in the business, we took the opportunity to get caught up on some work before the Tradeshow portion of CruiseWorld kicked into motion. Speaking to a few agents in passing, the words “amazing,” “best show ever,” “much needed,” and “fantastic,” seemed to be the overall feeling from nearly every Travel Professional in attendance at CruiseWorld.  


As lunch began, as did the Presidents Panel. Moderated by Arnie Weissmann and Mary Pat Sullivan, the Presidents from some of the best Cruise Lines took the stage including, Orlando Ashford, President, Holland America Line, Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International, Roberto Fusaro, President, North America, MSC Cruises, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises, Andy Stuart, President and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line, and finally Jan Swartz, Group President, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia. Now, to say that these individuals are passionate about their work would be the largest understatement that I could write as their passion, love and care for their work and the travel industry absolutely exudes from them. With all eyes on the Presidents Panel, I was forced to leave a bit early to prepare our booth for the upcoming Tradeshow.  


With our small but mighty booth ready, the Tradeshow began and as the doors opened, the Travel Professionals flooded the hallways and booths of over 170+ suppliers, host agencies, and destinations in attendance at the 2017 CruiseWorld. Being my third year in attendance at CruiseWorld, I can confidently say that there was more of everything this year in comparison to years past. From awesome Travel Professionals to fantastic suppliers, this Tradeshow had something for every agent and then a bit more on top of that.  


We concluded the day and were honored to enjoy a fantastic dinner with our friends at Trisept Solutions and VAX. These people work harder than anyone I know to deliver an insanely high quality and useful product for Travel Professionals and as their program continues to grow and evolve, it is truly something that every Travel Professional should look into for their CRM, payment scheduling and even booking. The team at Trisept have continued to up the bar in terms of technology for Travel Professionals and we couldn’t be happier to have spent the night with them learning more about what the future of Xcelerator, Trisept Solutions, The Mark Travel Corporation and VAX Vacation Access has in store for all of you true Travel Professionals! 


As the sun creeped up out of the Atlantic Ocean, I woke up early as Friday was a big day for me. I was hosting my very own Session. At 10:30 AM, I took the stage to discuss Customer Acquisition: Selling to Millennials and to say that I was nervous, well that would be a complete understatement. The early morning was a great call and before my session, I felt ready to rock it! As the time drew closer, I was honored that CruiseWorld had chosen me for this exciting topic and I hoped that the Travel Professionals that chose to spend the time with me would leave with tools to bring Millennials into their client book. As the room filled, I began and although I’m my own worst critique, I hope that I gave Travel Professionals in the room some additional tools for their arsenal in growing their business. During my session, I discussed exactly who the Millennial Market is, their Travel preferences, reporting on current Millennial trends, how to effectively communicate with Millennials, 5 Tips and Tricks to acquire Millennial clients and lastly, a few options of travel that are geared and focused directly at this growing market. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I will be hosting a Webinar on in the near future, make sure to keep your eyes out for it! 


With a heavy weight lifted with the completion of my session, I enjoyed a nice lunch overlooking the water before heading to Joanie Ogg’s session. On my way, I got to sit on Geoff Millar speak regarding Staffing Up: Adding IC’s to your Business. Geoff is a long time friend of ours and each and every year, he delivers amazing information that any Travel Professional can benefit from. His expertise in All Inclusive Travel, Hawaii, and the overwhelming success of his business has put Geoff as an All Star in my book.  


Joanie took the stage a bit later in the afternoon and with a room full of eager minds, she continued to deliver the best information for any agent that is new to the industry or looking to take their business to the next level. With a room full of attentive faces, Joanie continues to blow my mind with her skills in front of an audience. If you attend CruiseWorld in 2018, do yourself a favor and don’t miss her amazing session!  


With CruiseWorld complete, we made our way to the Fort Lauderdale airport to battle the pre-Thanksgiving crowds on our way home to San Diego, California. I want to personally thank all of the amazing staff at Travel Weekly for having us and for the amazing opportunities, experience and memories that you crafted for us. You all are gems in our eyes and we couldn’t be more honored to know you all. Additionally, I want to encourage you to consider CruiseWorld for your “must do” list for 2018. This show continues to be the best industry event I have attended and with improvements happening each year, I am confident saying that you will not be disappointed.  


Mark you calendars for November 7th – 9th, 2018 and I look forward to seeing you there! Until next year, Thank YOU CruiseWorld!