CCL’s Perez To Open Jaw: “We Are Telling Consumers Why They Need Travel Advisors”

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

WUATA Guy: Carnival's Adolfo Perez.

Travel advisors often complain about cruise lines directly marketing to their clients. But not this time.

Carnival Cruise Line is expanding its yearlong “Why Use a Travel Advisor” -- or WUATA -- initiative with the launch of what it is calling “the industry’s first consumer-focused efforts that are 100% dedicated to telling the story of the value of using a travel advisor.”

Aimed at helping travel professionals attract new clients and deepen the loyalty of existing clients, the yearlong campaign features WUATA Parties, social media promotions, contests, exclusive merchandise, giveaways and WUATA Word, an innovative crowdsourced word cloud that grows as the movement expands. 

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked ‘Why should I use a travel agent?,’” said Adolfo Perez, Carnival’s senior vice president of sales and trade marketing, in a phone interview with Open Jaw.

“We’re very aware that agents know more than consumers and can help them find the right choice for their cruise vacation. Most of the time it’s a free service and sometimes agents can save money for their clients too. And they’re a great backup for travellers should they run into any problems,” Perez said.

Carnival held its first WUATA party in Orlando in early May. Agents were invited to attend in tandem with a client or someone who is not yet a client. Next stop for the WUATA party tour is Toronto, with the date set for 24JUL. The party will be hosted by Perez along with Carnival sales executives and business development managers.

New communication tools illustrate the many ways a travel agent can be an indispensable resource for travellers. There is a brochure which supports the sentiment of Why Use a Travel Advisor, which CCL says can be a powerful tool for new client acquisition as well as building on the loyalty of existing clients. Here’s a snapshot of the new tools:

 

  •  WUATA.com features research and facts from Cruise Lines International Association and American Society of Travel Advisors about why consumers should book with a travel advisor; authentic client testimonials lauding their travel agent; a link to the enhanced Carnival Travel Agent Finder; and the WUATA Contest, where clients can nominate their agent to compete to be Carnival’s “Most Trusted Travel Advisor.”  
  • On the WUATA Facebook page, found at Facebook.com/CCLWUATA, consumers will find useful news and a link to the Carnival Travel Agent Finder. The story of WUATA will be told organically on the Facebook page, as clients and potential clients share stories and experiences about their agents.
  •  The WUATA brochure reinforces the differentiated value that advisors provide in a multipage format that agents can share with clients to help close sales. A digital version of the WUATA brochure will be available on WUATA.com and advisors can order print copies on GoCCL.com starting sometime in July.

A few years ago, Carnival was perceived as having turned away from its agent partners. A conscious decision to change that included the hiring of Perez, who has been a high-profile advocate for the work of agents – he even had ‘Travel Agents Rock’ permanently tattooed onto his body.

“We have done quite a few things to improve relationships with our travel agent partners,” Perez told Open Jaw. We have increased commissions, we’re printing brochures again after agent requests. We’re out there speaking to and listening to agents. This was lacking in the past.”

Perez says the focus on advisors is paying dividends. “We’ve seen a big improvement in our ‘net promoter’ score. We’re really happy with the results of our engagement.”

Agents can sign up to receive WUATA Updates by texting ‘WUATA’ to 1-866-Go-WUATA (469-8282), submit an entry to WUATA Word at www.WUATAWORD.com or buy a WUATA T-shirt at https://www.ebay.com/itm/333186540068.

Through WUATA, Carnival recently launched a contest to find the “Most Trusted Travel Advisor,” with clients submitting stories about why their travel professional is the best in the business. In addition to the title, the winning agent and their client nominator will be awarded a cruise on Mardi Gras— debuting in August 2020 — with roundtrip airfare, and the agent will also receive a $1,000 bonus and the commission from their client’s Mardi Gras cruise.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.