Carnival’s Donald Comes Out Strong In Praise Of Agents

Open Jaw

Arnold Donald

For all the headline talk about Cuba and China, it was discussion about the trade that quietly emerged as a major, yet mainly overlooked theme at this year's Cruise Shipping Miami conference. Both on the official panels and away from the podium, execs weighed in on the role of agents in cruise selling, oftentimes with views not openly expressed before.

The most vocal proponent during the State of the Industry panel wound up being Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corp.

“From your point of view, what for you is the biggest strength of the industry at the moment?" CNN correspondent and panel moderator Richard Quest asked CEOs.

While others said this and that, Arnold Donald's reply was crystal clear:

“The strength of the industry is the travel professionals who guide people to the right ship and the right experience. And all of our employees across the cruise lines that are totally passionate and committed to give an extraordinary vacation experience and extraordinary vacation value with people who cruise with us."

It wasn't the first time during the panel that Donald went out of his way to make points about the role of travel agents. Furthermore, one can't say he was pandering to travel agents because retailers constituted only a handful in this group of thousands attending the cruise industry's largest event.

Donald set the tone with his very first comments on the panel: “At the end of the day, the most important thing for us truly is to consistently exceed guest expectations. And to do that we have to get people on the right experience otherwise we lose people before we start. And
we really need the travel professional's help in doing that."

When the moderator asked, “What else can you do to change the perception, to destroy the myths of what a cruise is?" Donald stayed on point: “It is a question of refining your message and making it clear. But it's also supporting the travel agents who are one of the most important methods of getting the message across."

Although, there was never any specific talk along the lines of 'Sure, we're going to eliminate NCF's on all 3, 4 and 5 day cruises'.

When Donald talks about issues like cooperation amongst the nine Carnival Corp. brands, the brand leaders listen and act accordingly. And here is Donald concisely and consistently extolling travel agents in a way that was never done before by a CEO of Carnival Corp. on
the State of the Industry panel.

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