More than 800 travel professionals from around the country are expected to gather in Fort Lauderdale Nov. 15 through 17 to attend Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld event. And for travel advisers seeking peer engagement and education, the three-day conference, and two days of ship inspections on Nov. 18 and 19, will provide significant networking time.
“From a one-day Exhibitor Showcase featuring cruise lines, tour operators, hotels, destinations and more, to peer-led workshops, ship inspections and receptions, the networking opportunities at this event are endless,” said Alicia Evanko Lewis, senior vice president of events for the Travel Group division of Northstar Travel Group, which produces CruiseWorld.
For attendees seeking an even more intense immersion, CruiseWorld is again offering its Select Travel Advisor Recognition (STAR) program. The core component of STAR is a series of business connections scheduled between exhibiting suppliers and prequalified travel agents committed to business growth.
Participants in the STAR program spend time together in the exclusive STAR Lounge, where they can exchange helpful tips and tricks. “The support network you build with other agents is so encouraging,” said Jamie Rumph of Love of Magic Vacations, a past STAR attendee. “It is great to have a team of individuals at varying experience levels who are willing to share their thoughts, practices and expertise, not only at CruiseWorld but after the event.
“The relationships I built last year with both suppliers and other agents have been invaluable to my successes as an agent and agency owner in the past year,” she said.
STAR participants are able to continue their camaraderie in a private Facebook group where they can communicate and support their fellow advisers. Jennifer Upton with Mousekeplanner describes the group as an invaluable resource. “We’ve reconnected over and over since the conference to share best practices, swap recommendations on destinations or suppliers, commiserate over challenges and celebrate victories together,” she said. “Since so many of us are home based, meeting other professionals and creating a network gives me a workplace community to help me be better at what I do each day.”In this group, agents are also able to offer supplier contacts to colleagues searching for assistance with booking clients’ vacations, thereby extending the supplier connections made at the event.
The Exhibitor Showcase features suppliers from all facets of the industry. Laurie Capo of SkippingTown.com finds that her confidence in selling travel builds each time she attends CruiseWorld and with each connection she makes. “I found suppliers I didn’t know existed that have been the perfect fit for my clients,” Capo said. “I also got in-depth insight into destinations I was already booking, so I am able to make my clients’ trips even more special.”
A cornerstone of CruiseWorld is its peer-led workshops. Many STARs cite these breakout sessions as their favorite aspect of the event. Top travel advisers teach workshops on topics such as selling group travel, booking honeymoons and using social media. Phil Salet with Free Bird Cruises described his interaction with a fellow travel professional as the best part of CruiseWorld and the STAR Program: “I met Geoff Millar of Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel in his breakout session, and he has really helped me with expanding my business to include all-inclusive travel.”
CruiseWorld also features c-suite keynote speakers, supplier workshops and sponsored meal functions. A total of eight ship inspection opportunities are available at both Fort Lauderdale and Miami ports.
To experience the myriad of networking opportunities, visit www.cruiseworldshow.com to register.