Vicki Freed: Royal Caribbean free-cruise incentive crashed the ASTA website

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Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas. Cruise line exec Vicki Freed said her offer of a free cruise to agents who renew or join ASTA in September is good for cruises of two to eight days in various cruise destinations.
Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas. Cruise line exec Vicki Freed said her offer of a free cruise to agents who renew or join ASTA in September is good for cruises of two to eight days in various cruise destinations.

Travel advisors: Want a free Royal Caribbean cruise? Sign up for an ASTA membership during the month of September.

Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, marketing and trade support and services for Royal Caribbean International, said on her 70th Coffee Talk webinar last week that the first 1,000 travel advisors who either sign up or renew their ASTA membership this month will receive a free Royal Caribbean cruise. The advisor's agency must be registered with Cruising Power.

"It crashed the ASTA site," Freed said on this week's episode of the Folo by Travel Weekly podcast.

Andrea Caulfield, ASTA's senior manager for membership confirmed the avalanche of interest: Once Freed made the offer, Caulfield said, "the phones and inboxes and Facebook pages were on fire!"

"The whole membership team has been working diligently to help each and every person inquiry about joining and renewing."

As of the morning of Sept. 6, more than 600 advisors had joined ASTA or re-upped through the offer. Caulfield said that given the volume of questions and calls still coming in, "we seem to be on pace to reach the capacity of this offer."

ASTA membership for an independent advisor is $199, much less than the value of most cruises, especially since, Freed said, the advisors could choose a cruise from two to eight days in the Caribbean, Alaska or Europe.

"People were so excited," Freed said. She said during the podcast episode that she did it because she believed that ASTA and the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies "have done so much for the travel advisors in this past year and a half."

Freed also gave away 70 cruises to advisors who listened in on 70th Coffee Talk webinar.

During the Folo episode, she said the Coffee Talks have "helped me stay close to the travel advisors during these last 18 months.... What I really enjoy is the connection."

For more information, advisors can listen to the Sept. 1 Coffee Talk episode on demand through the Royal Caribbean University webcast section of Cruising Power's Training & Benefits page.

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