Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — It wasn’t even supposed to come to Toronto. When the list of dates for Carnival’s WUATA parties was first announced, July 24 was earmarked for Minneapolis. But then Toronto ended up snagging the date and last night local agents – and their clients – showed Carnival why Toronto was the perfect choice for a great WUATA event.
WUATA, of course, stands for ‘Why Use a Travel Advisor’ and it’s the name of Carnival’s year-long campaign with special events, incentives and more, aimed at helping agents attract new clients and strengthen ties with existing clients.
Launched in March 2019, WUATA features the WUATA parties, social media promotions, contests, exclusive merchandise, giveaways, text alerts and WUATA Word, an crowdsourced word cloud that will grow throughout the year as the movement expands.
All the tools are available on GoCCL.com to help travel advisors spread the word to existing and potential clients, says the cruise line. Plus, last month Carnival launched WUATA.com, a WUATA brochure and an exclusive WUATA Facebook page.
WUATA builds on a message that Carnival has been promoting for several years now: that it’s always better to book through a travel agent.
As Carnival’s Senior Vice President, Global Sales & Trade Marketing, Adolfo Perez, said at last night’s WUATA event: “Why wouldn’t you use a travel agent? It’s like having a personal assistant. People are busy and there’s no time to do all that research.”
Back in 2017 and 2018 Carnival embarked on multi-city Agentpalooza tours, bringing Carnival’s energy and swag to thousands of agents. This year, said Perez, “we thought maybe there’s a way to connect with travel agents in a different way.”
Perez adds that Carnival “also wanted to show consumers why travel agents are so important.”
At last night’s party the line premiered the latest WUATA campaign — a five-part video series featuring travel advisors and their clients sharing travel tales that tell the ‘WUATA Story.’ The videos do not promote specific advisors or agencies, but instead focus on the larger message of Why Use a Travel Advisor.
“As the WUATA program gains traction we’re looking for even more ways to spread our message on the benefits of using a travel advisor, and there’s no better testimonial than seeing a real connection between a travel agent and their client,” said Perez. “This video series enables us to too add a relatable and personal element to WUATA in a format that we can push across multiple channels to reach more travelers.”
All five videos are available on the WUATA Facebook page and WUATA.com. Agents can use a click-to-share tool to send the videos directly to their clients.
Justin French, Carnival’s VP, Canada and Northern U.S., says Carnival has always had high support in Canada and it’s just getting stronger. “The past couple of years we’ve seen really great growth from the Canadian market,” he said at last night’s event.
Carnival’s long list of North American homeports includes one in Canada (Vancouver) and several in northeastern U.S., like New York City and Boston, that work well for Canadian travellers. That said, the bulk of Carnival’s business is seven-night Caribbean itineraries out of south Florida, and Canadians have no problem making time for a trip to the Sunshine State for a cruise.
Ann Chamberlin, Senior Vice President Membership, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships for ASTA, and Charlie Sylvia, Vice President, Membership and Trade Relations for CLIA, also spoke at last night’s WUATA party. The uptick in the number of travellers using travel agents “has nothing to do with price and everything to do with value,” said Sylvia. “And there’s nothing like getting a good value.”
Last night’s WUATA party included cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, travel experts sharing the value of using a travel advisor, prizes, giveaways, fun photo-ops, and a Carnival 3 category upgrade offer. Guests could also purchase WUATA t-shirts for $25 with proceeds going to Carnival’s primary charitable partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital based in Memphis, TN.