Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

One of the less familiar names on Celebrity Cruises’ 2015 list of top travel partners is Pavlus Travel & Cruise, Inc.

At a time when many cruise-only agencies have taken to adding more land tours and all-inclusives, Albuquerque-based Pavlus has gone in the opposite direction, said owner Craig Pavlus.

“We’re kind of a secret in many ways because we’ve focused on tours,” said Pavlus, who said his agency is the largest seller of Tauck Tours in the world “But in the past few years we began focusing on cruise sales.”

The key, Pavlus said, was to concentrate on the balcony and suite-oriented guest. Doing a large volume of cruise sales was of no great interest to Pavlus, who said the right customer who will return to buy again and again was more valuable.

Although he said he has no problem selling luxury lines like Seabourn and Silversea, this year Celebrity has been especially popular with clients.

“It’s been an outstanding year,” he said. “Best year ever. And best growth.”

Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity's senior vice president of sales, trade support and services, and Keith Lane, vice president of field sales and national accounts, visited the agency in New Mexico earlier this year.

“Once they saw that we were truly interested in raising per diems, they paid attention to us, if you will. They worked very closely with us to work on a program for the client,” Pavlus said.

It didn’t hurt that the agency’s goals overlapped with the cruise line’s goals.

“At the end of the day you can fill a ship with a sale of some type and look for onboard revenue,” Pavlus said. "We’re not looking for that type of client nor do we want that client. I believe Celebrity as well is looking to move clients up with a degree of loyalty to their product.”

Ritzenthaler said that is one of the objectives of the Go Big, Go Better, Go Best pricing structure rolled out earlier this year. She said Pavlus, which was named strategic account of the year, gets that.

“Pavlus has been great about engaging their clients to help them take advantage of our modern luxury offerings,” Ritzenthaler said in an e-mail. "Pavlus Travel is a fantastic partner to Celebrity. We both value personalized service and quality all around, and they are a hardworking and innovative team focused on delivering the best of the best.”

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