Carnival CEO Says Agents Critical To Industry Success
Travel Market Report
A cruise is not a typical consumer purchase, and that’s why agents remain a “critically important” partner to cruise lines, said Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald during an interview at the Skift Global Forum in NYC this week.
“A cruise is not a typical purchase - you’re not buying a pair of shoes, you’re not even buying a house. You’re buying a real experience that involves other people… Right now travel professionals are critically important,” he said.
Travel agents show their true value when they qualify their clients and match them correctly to the right brand and ship, Donald said. That’s especially the case for 1st time cruisers. “If we get them on the right experience, they will be cruisers for life.”
On the other hand, “the worst thing that happens in our industry is when people get on the wrong ship, because then their expectations are not exceeded,” Donald added.
Carnival Corp. is investing in new technology to help sell cruises, but Donald says agents will continue to be the lifeblood of the industry. “It’s really critically important for us to try and equip the travel professional to understand the brands and to understand their customers,” he said. “There’s so many decisions to make, and if you haven’t cruised before you have no frame of reference… You could easily go to a travel agent who can condense that [research] time for you.”
The challenge for the cruise industry and their agent partners is to stimulate “people to want to cruise,” Donald told the Skift Global Forum audience. “My personal goal for this company is to keep cruise out in the public space in a positive way all the time so that when someone is thinking about a vacation they have the idea of ‘hey what about a cruise?’”