CLIA will induct a longtime marketing executive and two husband-wife entrepreneurs into its Cruise Industry Hall of Fame during the CLIA Cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale on April 23.

Rod McLeod, entering the Hall of Fame as a cruise line executive, was part of Royal Caribbean’s founding management team as marketing director. He had a 25-year career at the cruise line. 

CLIA noted that McLeod is “widely credited with leading an innovative marketing and sales organization that enabled Royal Caribbean to emerge as one of the cruise industry’s most powerful and sustainable brands.” 

McLeod also was president of Norwegian Cruise Line for two years, senior vice president of marketing at Carnival Corp. for two years and president of American Classic Voyages for two years. McLeod is currently retired and lives in Longwood, Fla.

Mark and Mimi Comfort, entering the Hall as cruise retailers, own Cruise Holidays of Kansas City. The agency, which opened in 1988, has been Cruise Holidays’ top store for the past 23 years.

“The Comforts are proactive and aggressive marketers, consistently holding consumer events, speaking to organizations, producing a 16-page quarterly newsletter distributed to more than 32,000 past passengers and advertising heavily on ‘Vacation Views,’ Mark’s weekly radio show of more than 17 years,” CLIA said.

Wayne and Judy Heller, entering the Hall as cruise sales innovators, opened retail agency Cruises Only in 1984. By 1997, Cruises Only was North America’s largest cruise agency. 

The Hellers, along with four other entities, co-founded Travel Services International. “By 2000, the division had purchased more than 20 companies and generated sales of more than $500 million, making TSI the largest seller of cruises in the world,” CLIA said.

Since leaving TSI in 2000, the Hellers have concentrated on business ventures, including creating Origin Cruise Group. In 2011, they restored the 130 year-old Riverview Hotel & Spa complex in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

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