CruiseWorld's trade show floor satisfies agents and suppliers

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Travefy's Scott Rutz explains his product to Rebecca Vogt, an agent with the Cruise Captain in Tampa.
Travefy's Scott Rutz explains his product to Rebecca Vogt, an agent with the Cruise Captain in Tampa. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

FORT LAUDERDALE -- More than 800 travel agents attending Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld had the chance to network with some 200 suppliers at the trade show on Thursday.

The buzzing trade show floor was filled with agents, both veteran and new, chatting with suppliers and partaking in games and activities arranged throughout the space.

Destinations by Design agents Stefanie Armstrong, based in Winfield, West Virginia, and Michele Cartwright, based in Eleanor, West Virginia, said the face time they got with suppliers was invaluable. Both were attending CruiseWorld for the first time.

Armstrong said attending the trade show gave her a chance to meet with business development managers and other representatives. After becoming an agent in February, she said she was particularly interested in learning from the river cruise operators.

"It's definitely the face time," Cartwright added. "For us, we provide a customer experience, and I want to make sure that I'm bringing back the brands that my customers are going to appreciate and enjoy, and that I have the contacts here when things do go wrong -- but they usually go right. For me, it's really about building my business, establishing those relationships."

Suppliers also enjoy the chance to have access to a number of agents.

Travefy, an itinerary management and communication tool for agents, was set up at the trade show for the first time this year.

Scott Rutz, a member of Travefy's founding team, said the turnout was "above and beyond our expectations," and that 2017 wouldn't be the company's last at CruiseWorld.

Carnival Corp.'s brands drew a large crowd of agents.
Carnival Corp.'s brands drew a large crowd of agents. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

"One, it helps us get in front of new agents who we haven't talked to before to let them know about [Travefy]. Oftentimes, these conferences attract the most driven, motivated agents that want to grow their business," he said. "That's who we want to talk to. The second thing is that it helps connect with the customers we already have and strengthen those relationships even more."

Veteran CruiseWorld exhibitors appreciated the chance to build awareness of their companies.

Drew Daly, World Travel Holdings' general manager of network engagement and performance, said the company's brands (Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises, Inc.) have been exhibiting at CruiseWorld since the conference began.

"It's brand equity and awareness," he said.

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