FORT LAUDERDALE -- A six-month contest organized by Carnival Cruise Line to find the country's most trusted travel advisor culminated on the opening day of CruiseWorld with Carnival's announcement of the winner.
And the agent most trusted by her devoted clients? Carnival senior vice president of sales and trade marketing Adolfo Perez named Becky Smith, owner of Becky's Travel Biz, of Gainesville, Ga.
Smith won $1,000 and a cruise for herself and a client on the upcoming Carnival ship the Mardi Gras, which will sail out of Port Canaveral, Fla., starting next year.
Carnival received more than 5,000 nominations in its Why Use A Travel Agent (WUATA) campaign from agents' clients who felt their advisor should be named the most trusted.
Smith was among three agents who received the most nominations. The other two were David Sommer, of SS Cruises in Huber Heights, Ohio, and Kelly Brewer, a Cruise Planners franchisee in Lowell, Ariz.
They received Mardi Gras cruises and $500 for airfare as runners up.
The contest was judged by a panel that included Perez; Carnival president Christine Duffy; Ann Chamberlin, ASTA's senior vice president of membership & strategic partnerships; and Charles Sylvia, CLIA's vice president of membership and trade relations.
Perez said the judges looked at the totality of the client comments about each of the three.
And he said that a story from a client who said Smith made final payment on a cruise for her when she ran short of money and couldn't afford to do so was the comment that pushed her nomination over the top.