Royal Caribbean looked at investing more resources into direct sales before deciding to hire additional salespeople for travel agent support, said Vicki Freed, the cruise line's senior vice president of sales, trade support and services.

"When we were talking about 2019 -- and we have explosive growth at Royal Caribbean -- what should the distribution look like?" Freed said. "Should we double down on direct? Should we double down on travel agent business? And we made the decision to double down on the travel agent business."

Among the new hires will be two specialists who will focus primarily on supporting hosted independent contractors, a model Royal Caribbean is actively supporting.

In addition, in its 2019 business plan the line has budgeted for 16 sales personnel who will focus on travel agent channels. The plan also calls for a multimillion-dollar support investment -- funding company cars, travel and entertainment spending, and other items that will enable Royal Caribbean to shrink the sales territories that business development managers cover.

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