Carnival’s Duffy On Agent Relations, Achieving Arison’s Vision
Relations between Carnival and travel agents are clearly better now than in 2013, despite the fact that CCL still lacks preferred partnerships with some key agency groups.
“I don’t see it as a challenge as much as you acknowledge,” President Christine Duffy told CruiseWeek. “For me, the trade matters. Our team worked incredibly hard before I came here to make the kind of changes and do things that we heard from the trade were important to them.”
Carnival leadership messed up a few years back when it appeared they had decided they didn’t need travel agents -- because they do.
Carnival is certainly more aggressive with travel agents now than a few years back. Checking out the Facebook feeds of V.P. Sales & Trade Marketing Adolfo Perez, you note how engaging they are, similar in strength to those feeds of the best in the business, like Andy Stuart or Vicki Freed.
Perez’s Facebook posts are sometimes funny, sometimes personal, and always good business: “We’ll send you some information on that next week” or crowd shots of agents from the latest Carnival Conversations. It’s fun and real.
It’s a modern-day version of the extensive Bob Dickinson/Maurice Zarmati road shows of days past. For more than 2 decades that’s how the best suppliers used to get in front of travel agents – through relentless travel to big cities and smaller centres across the continent.
Today’s social media channels enable a similar degree of interaction without requiring that national execs go personally to so many cities. And when done right, it really makes a difference.
Duffy says Carnival is focusing on its key strengths, one of which is appealing to a broad cross-section of people. “It has been very important to me that we focus on our purpose, which was really the vision Ted Arison had when he started Carnival, which was making cruising accessible to everyone. If you think about a Carnival Cruise and the people who sail with us, the idea of these memorable vacations, about having fun, about come as you are—all are welcome, whether it’s military, African Americans, Hispanics or families with children. When you think about a Carnival cruise, for me, this idea that everyone is welcome is so important in today’s society.”