Q&A with Cruise Lines International Association

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Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise association and is dedicated to the promotion and growth of the cruise industry. CLIA is composed of 26 of the major cruise lines serving North America and more than 12,000 travel agency and agent members.

CLIA’s mission is to promote the special benefits of cruising and to participate in the regulatory and policy development process.  This mission ensures that all measures adopted provide for a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment, and the education, training, promotion of the value, desirability and affordability of the cruise vacation experience.

A few of CLIA’s primary roles include promotion of the cruise product to both the selling agent and the buying public; providing cruise selling travel agents the highest level of professional sales training and marketing support; and promote the value of a CLIA member travel agency to the traveling public.

Membership in CLIA allows agencies to book and earn commissions with their 26 member cruise lines in addition to other industry suppliers, access to top notch training and certification and a long list of other member only benefits. Recommend’s editor-in-chief Paloma Villaverde de Rico sat down with Margaret Murphy, CLIA’s sr. v.p. of marketing & training, to learn more about CLIA’s membership program.

PVR: What do your current members value most about their CLIA membership?

MM:A few months ago we did a member survey, and actually there were several benefits that ranked at the top:

    • • CLIA booking number: This booking number allows agencies to book and earn commissions with all of our 26 member cruise lines and many other travel industry suppliers.
    • • Bonus Coupon Booklet: Included with their initial membership package, this booklet contains bonus commissions and value-added coupons from our member cruise lines and preferred partners, when redeemed add up to thousands of dollars!
    • • Training & Certification: CLIA’s program is recognized as the best training for agents; third party research has proven that a certified CLIA agent sells 261 percent more!

PVR:Why should a travel agent become certified?MM: It is a fact that well-traveled travel sellers sell more travel and cruises. Certified cruise counsellors reported that on average their annual cruise sales productivity increased 261 percent upon completing CLIA’s certification program. Our certification program not only serves to elevate an agent’s personal and professional brand; research has shown that professional designations like CLIA certification are an important consideration for vacationers when selecting a travel agent! We have four levels of certifications, from beginner to expert!

PVR:  Last month CLIA held its annual National Cruise Vacation Week? Can you tell us a little about that? 

MM: Surely. CLIA celebrates National Cruise Vacation Week (NCVW) in October, and each year, we bring together our member agencies from around the U.S. and Canada, to participate in the largest travel agency cruise sales initiative of its kind…the World’s Largest Cruise Sale! Our 26 member cruise lines provide exclusive offers; our NY PR agency developed messaging to promote the event through national broadcast, consumer media outlets and trade publicity. And Christine Duffy, CLIA’s president & CEO made several TV appearances on popular morning shows. Overall we had record breaking participation from our agent members and garnered 159,840,020 million media impressions!

PVR: With more than 12,000 agency and agent members, how do you stay in touch with everyone?

MM: We engage with our agent and agency members on a regular basis utilizing several communication vehicles. Email is used to share information related to upcoming events, dates and cities for our training and certification program, preferred partner benefit offerings and invitations to attend informative webinars.

CLIA Today, our bi-monthly e-newsletter, communicates sales and marketing tips to assist agents in growing their cruise business. We have staff writers as well as field experts as contributors.

Cruising.org is our website loaded with information for our members with everything from an industry calendar to marketing and promotional tools and lots more in between. Agents will also find a link to our CEO’s blog, where they will find Christine’s perspective and insight on the dialogue surrounding the industry.

And of course, social media…events, member cruise line news and general cruise related exchanges take place via our Facebook and Twitter accounts (@CruiseFacts and @CLIACEO).

PVR:  Margaret, CLIA Membership sounds like an expensive proposition, how much does it cost for an agency to become a member of CLIA?

MM:  A lot less than you would think! For an agency to join CLIA for a full year and receive all of the benefits we have shared here today….only $409!  To become a CLIA member, just visit cruising.org and join today…CLIA membership matters!