CLIA cruise3sixty conference celebrates 10 years, focus on future growth

FORT LAUDERDALE — One of the largest-ever number of industry delegates attended Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 10th anniversary cruise3sixty conference and trade show here earlier this month.

More than 1,800 delegates were registered for the annual event, which focuses on helping CLIA member agents boost their cruise industry knowledge and sales. Attendees hailed from across the United States, as well as Canada, Australia, Germany, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, Brazil, New Zealand, Kenya, Nigeria, China, British Virgin Islands and Malaysia.

Conference emphasis was on the future during the three days of networking events, general sessions and a two-day trade show showcasing more than 300 exhibiting companies, including CLIA member cruise lines. Agents toured a record 24 cruise ships and participated in over 50 product and destination seminars.

Sixteen CLIA training and professional development seminars were held, including 10 new seminars. In all, agents were able to earn up to 150 credits toward CLIA Certification.

In a surprise appearance, Gavin MacLeod, ‘Captain Merrill Stubing’ from The Love Boat, gave away 12 of the more than 40 cruises awarded to lucky member agents during the conference.

General Sessions with industry leaders focused on the future, stressing ways to attract first-time cruisers and strengthen the cruise business and sales.

CLIA President & CEO Christine Duffy opened Friday’s General Session celebrating a 66% passenger growth since the first cruise3sixty a decade ago, encouraging delegates to share her excitement and optimism about the future of the cruise industry.

“We’re serving more passengers every year,” she said. “We’re receiving guest satisfaction rates that are among the highest in the entire travel industry. We continue to launch dynamic and spectacular ships that no one could have imagined just a decade ago. I’m convinced that the years between now and 2024 will be filled with more growth, innovation and of course, more sales.”

Dwain Wall, CLIA’s new Senior Vice President of Agency and Trade Relations, announced a host of new CLIA programs to meet agents’ future needs. These include a new CLIA website and a continually enhanced education curriculum.

‘CLIA Cruise Week’, formerly National Cruise Vacation Week, which for several years has been held in the U.S. and Canada, will go global this year. In addition to North America, the promotion will take place in the U.K, Ireland and Australasia. In North America, the event will be held Oct. 6-13, and will include enhanced features, offers and tools, including CLIA Cruise Week ‘How-to’ and Specialty Cruise Collection guides.

CLIA is also busy evolving CLIA’s travel agent value proposition. Based on travel agent and agency owners’ feedback, the project will provide new resources and benefits, which will be exclusive to CLIA agent members.

The dates for cruise3sixty 2015, also being held in Fort Lauderdale, are April 22-26.

For more on the benefits of CLIA membership, visit cruising.org.