e are delighted to see Carnival Corp.'s six cruise brands supporting ASTA in a national advertising campaign and sweepstakes that will enhance public awareness of professional travel agents, generate interest in cruising and maybe even drive some business into travel agencies.


Kudos to ASTA, and to Carnival Cruise Lines and its cousins in the World's Leading Cruise Lines, for coming up with a creative partnership.

The Carnival Corp. units are putting up $250,000 in cash, plus eight cruises for two as prizes. That is a substantial investment, but for a corporate family with an annual revenue stream of $4 billion, it is not a painful one. One might even call it wise.

The whole thing is such a good idea that we began to wonder why suppliers don't do it more often.

Perhaps it's because it involves complicated financial and marketing maneuvers, or abstract thought, or an opposable thumb.

For the benefit of travel industry suppliers that might need guidance in these areas, we thought we would do a quick walk-through of the basic concepts involved in driving business to travel agents. To simplify our example, we eliminated the sweepstakes so that interested cruise lines, hotels, resorts, tour operators -- shucks, even airlines -- can follow along:

(1) Supplier places ad in national media promoting travel agents, saying "Our product will make you happy. Go to your travel agent to learn more."
(2) Consumer goes to travel agent and learns more, decides to take vacation.
(3) Travel agent sells vacation to consumer.
(4) Supplier makes money.
(5) Travel agent makes money.
(6) Consumer takes vacation, gets happy. Feels good about supplier, feels good about travel agent.
(7) Repeat step (1).

Fabulous.

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