SEATTLE -- Cruise West's hourlong Internet training class started
at 9 a.m., but Ann Bruno of AAA Autoclub South had a client coming
in at 9:45 a.m.
No problem, she said. "I was able to walk out of my office, give
him a brochure and come back [to the class] without anyone knowing
I was gone."
The days of the drop-in DSM or the regional breakfast are gone,
at least for Cruise West. Bruno conducted her classroom session
alone in her office -- but through the Internet, she linked up to
five other agents and the Cruise West trainer.
The small-ship line earlier this year eliminated its field reps
and now focuses its sales outreach program through a newly upgraded
and redesigned agent Web site.
Agents can sign up for the free training sessions, which are
done through an Internet product called WebEx -- and an
old-fashioned device called the phone.
Bruno, for example, took an online session called "Cruise West
2004 Product Launch," and she followed along via WebEx, which
enables a session leader to control the images and information the
attendees see on their computer screens.
Cruise West's new Web site, at www.cruisewestagents.com, also enables agents to
download marketing collateral and create their own marketing
program, check out fam opportunities and get information on the
line's agent partner program, called B.E.A.R. (Bookings Earn
"If you had district sales managers come in, they'd have all of
this in their briefcase," said Jerre Fuqua, Cruise West's vice
president of sales. "It's all here."
The Web site is customized for Cruise West's preferred partners
such as Leisure Travel Group. But any agent can come in, browse and
find out, for example, what type of client is right for Cruise
"This allows agents, if they're part of a consortia or not, to
have the same tools a big agent would have," Fuqua said.
Next year the site will take agents' online bookings.
The line scheduled about 20 training sessions in November, with
subjects like "Selling Small Ship Cruising" and "Virtual Cruise
Once agents install the WebEx software on a compatible computer
system and dial into a conference call, they're ready to go. The
photos, text and information are fed directly into the individual
computers, almost like a Web-based slide show.
To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].