Consumers, when you book a cruise through a travel agent, you might wonder what qualifies your agent to be in the business. Premium cruise line Celebrity Cruises offers a glimpse into their a long-standing philosophy when it comes to its travel agent partners: teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Celebrity Cruises and deluxe sister line Azamara Cruises have announced a robust line-up of spring and summer training tools designed to help agents become more successful at matching their clients with upscale cruise vacations.
Celebrity’s popular “Five-Star Academy” is an online training portal that certifies travel agents as “Five-Star Agents” expert in Celebrity Cruises’ offerings. Since its inception in Sept of 2008, Celebrity Five-Star Academy has seen more than 11,000 travel agents register and take courses; 2,000 of these have completed the series and been named Five-Star Agents as a result of their success. Celebrity Five-Star Academy will soon launch the first of several electives outside the five levels required for completion. This elective focuses on ways that travel agents can employ various marketing tools and tactics to help grow their business.
Azamara is developing its own version of a multi-level online training program. Called “Azamara World Academy,” it will feature three levels of courses that participating travel agents must successfully complete before moving on to the next level. Topics will focus on Azamara’s unique and unusual destinations, culture-rich shore excursion offerings, unparalleled onboard service and dining, and more. Azamara World Academy is currently slated to launch in late June 2009.
For agents, Celebrity and Azamara are offering ways to boost their own business as the focus of a 10-city tour, currently underway and continuing through Oct of this year. An average of 75 travel agents have attended each training event on the tour so far; these have taken place in Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago. Space is limited but openings still exist for events in Detroit (May 20), Mich.; Marina del Rey (June 3), Calif.; Palo Alto (June 23), Calif.; Vancouver (July 9), British Columbia; Framingham/Boston (Aug 12), Mass.; Long Island (Aug 18), NY; and Toronto (Aug 26), Ontario.
Since Feb of this year, Celebrity and Azamara have been presenting two separate series of web-based training sessions, or webinars, with monthly opportunities to participate. The “Learning” series has presented travel agents with compelling details on topics such as Azamara’s all-stateroom butler service and Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox in Europe. The “Leadership Team” series of webinars has given travel agents the opportunity to hear directly from various Celebrity/Azamara executives, including President and CEO Dan Hanrahan, Senior Vice President of Sales Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, and Senior Vice President of Marketing Wayne Wielgus. Dan Hanrahan will host June’s “Leadership Team” webinar.
Participation in these activities for agents is free. Travel agents are encouraged to visit www.cruisingpower.com to find out more about these and other available tools.