Cream of the crop’ at YVR Cruise Showcase

A determination by Canadian cruise retailers to gather as much product knowledge as possible impressed and pleased executives at the Cruise Showcase forum in Vancouver earlier this week, reports Press Today’s western editor Ted Davis, who attended the event. Company brass from six “niche”and luxury cruise ship companies met with 75 top Canadian cruise agents at the educational event, which was held at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel. Executives attended from All Discovery Cruising, MSC Yacht Club, Orion Expedition Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Silversea and Windstar Cruises. Without exception, they all said that the agents were sharply attentive, eager to learn and prepared to make the effort to sell the various cruise products. Some have already established strong sales relationships with the cruise ship companies. “This is the cream of the crop,”said Steve Novello, the North America president for All Discovery Cruising. “The agents were focused on learning for the entire day,”said event organizer Vanessa Lee, president of Cruise Strategies. “The cruise suppliers were all very impressed.”The agents took in six 50-minute product training sessions – one for each of the cruise companies. The day ended with an executive cruise line panel and a Q&A session moderated by Lee, followed by a sociable wine and cheese reception. At the end of the learning-intensive day, some execs even said that the Cruise Showcase should be used as a template for all such gatherings. “It was incredibly well organized. This should be a model for travel agent cruise education events,”said Tracy McSorley, the national accounts director for Silversea. “It was maybe the best organized agent function I’ve ever attended,”said Novello. A Cruise Showcase fee of $75 ensured that attending cruise retailers were all business – the event was sold out and the conference room at the Fairmont was full to capacity. But access to exclusive product knowledge on these niche and luxury lines was not all that was on offer to the cruise agents. Payment of the fee also ensured that agents received commission bonus vouchers valued at $100 from each of the participating cruise lines. Agents who make a booking on any of the lines can redeem the voucher for the bonus, in addition to their commission payment. But regardless of the commission bonus, attendance at the Cruise Showcase “was worth every penny,”said Wendi Peterson, an elite cruise counsellor for ExpediaCruiseShip Centers in New Westminster. Seen in the photo are: Ian Patterson, managing director Canada for MSC Cruises, who met some top producing cruise agents, including Wendi Peterson, elite cruise counsellor at ExpediaCruiseShip Centers in New Westminster, BC (r); and Yukako Carrothers, also an elite cruise counsellor for ExpediaCruiseShip Centers, but in North Vancouver.