NASSAU, Bahamas -- Travel agents attending a Caribbean cruise
conference here sponsored by 13 cruise lines called on tourism
companies in individual Caribbean destinations to work more closely
with travel agencies.
Kathy Pelaez, vice president of sales for Liberty Travel, said
closer marketing ties between agencies and destinations would help
expand Caribbean tourism.
Andrew Schrameck of Clearwater Cruises, Clearwater, Fla., said
that Caribbean tourist boards should consider cooperative
advertising programs even with midsize agencies.
The agents provided a retail point of view at the Fourth
Caribbean Cruise Conference, sponsored by the Florida Caribbean
Cruise Association. The annual conference, which this year
attracted 500 delegates, was created by the cruise industry to
increase business opportunities with its Caribbean partners.
Pelaez said that collaboration between travel agencies and
destinations could help improve the shore experiences of
passengers, particularly those who do not go on ship-marketed shore
excursions. "There are a lot of people, including experienced
travelers, who don't want to go on a tour," she said. "And when
they get off the ship they're looking for something else to be
offered to them."
The agent called on destination tourism boards to provide
agencies with more informational materials to give to such clients
before they depart on their cruises. In addition, Pelaez urged more
tourism boards to set up informational offices or kiosks at
dockside to provide passengers with walking tour maps and
directories of local merchants.
Pelaez emphasized that agencies should begin briefing passengers
on destinations before they arrive at the ship. "It helps them plan
what they will be doing during their stay," she said. "Agents tend
to focus strictly on the ship, but we should educate them a little
more on the islands." By stimulating interest in ports of call, she
added, agents could help build the market for cruises.
Besides working with tourist boards, agencies also should
consider dealing with port merchants on special offers to
passengers, Pelaez said. For example, an agency might consider
stuffing discount coupons into the envelopes containing passenger
Schrameck said that port merchants as well as tourist boards
should consider participating in agency cooperative marketing
programs. Although many cruise lines participate in his agency's
cruise night programs, no destinations do, he said, adding that
agencies also could work with port merchants on joint