Nearly 200 travel advisers have already been accepted to the 2018 CruiseWorld STAR (Select Travel Advisor Recognition) program, and there have been over 1000 visits to the STAR application. Interested advisers should apply soon, as only 250 spots are available.
The CruiseWorld conference, which takes place Nov. 7 to 9 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, features c-suite keynote speakers, supplier workshops, peer-to-peer training, a one-day Exhibitor Showcase, sponsored meal functions, ship inspections and significant networking opportunities.
And it features the STAR program. As part of Travel Weekly's ongoing commitment to supporting the professional development and growth of the travel adviser community, STAR is structured to provide enhanced event programming while offsetting some of the financial expenses incurred by travel advisers to attend professional development events.
The core component of the STAR program is a series of collaborative meetings between exhibiting suppliers and prequalified travel advisers committed to business growth.
Hundreds of applications have been received so far, and accepted participants represent a wide range of demographics and experience levels. Over 88% of participants are new to the STAR program in 2018.
"A recent Travel Institute study revealed that certified and trained advisers earn a lot more than their untrained peers," said Alicia Evanko-Lewis, senior vice president of events for Northstar Travel Group. "We completely agree, and we remain committed to helping travel advisers learn and grow at every stage of their travel career. CruiseWorld offers educational opportunities that speak to a broad range of travel sellers seeking growth and knowledge.
"We wholeheartedly agree with the Travel Institute that training, product knowledge and certification are key to future success, and our commitment to financial support through the STAR program is a testament to that commitment."
STAR program alum Mitch Krayton, of Krayton Travel, has high praise for what CruiseWorld and the STAR Program did for his business. "Since attending CruiseWorld, I am able to speak to my clients with a superior level of expertise," he said.
"The educational sessions are spot on and full of great content," Krayton said. "The sponsors and exhibitors are fun to hear from and have informative booths, presentations and workshops. I really learned a lot last year."
CruiseWorld allowed Krayton and other travel advisers to become more educated on destinations, hotels and resorts, and cruise lines to provide the best experience for their customers.
Rachelle Settle of Wanderlove Travel, and a first-time STAR in 2017, found the program to be extremely beneficial as a travel adviser early in her career. The CruiseWorld team caught up with her in the months following the event. "Before I attended, my cruise sales for 2017 were at $63,000," she said. "Since attending in November, I have sold over $95,000 in cruises alone. I can attribute much of this to my participation at CruiseWorld."
Experienced travel advisers are applying for the STAR Program to compound their existing knowledge of the industry. Diane Fudge, All Inclusive Travel Concierge, says CruiseWorld and the STAR program helped her to achieve her goals. "Thanks to this event, I have established new relationships with business development managers from Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions and Riviera River Cruises. I achieved my goal of beginning to book with AIC Hotels & Resorts. And to top it all off, my sales to start off 2018 are up 300%."
In a survey of 2017 STAR participants, 77% reported that they had formed new supplier relationships as a result of attending CruiseWorld.
STAR participants also find the program's facilitated business connections with suppliers have helped to boost their confidence, and in turn their sales. "Since attending CruiseWorld as a STAR, I have booked more land packages and closed more business in three months than I did all of last year," said Gina Arata, 3G Vacations. "The confidence I gained from the educational workshops and the ability to speak directly with the suppliers was truly invaluable."
Jodi Kenner, Cruise Planners, is another shining example of how the STAR Program can boost confidence in everyone from novice to veteran travel professionals. "I was still so new when I attended CruiseWorld and had so much to learn," she said. "Since meeting with the exhibitors, I am much more comfortable quoting destinations and hotels, saving me valuable time." Kenner's bookings have more than doubled because of direct supplier contacts she made through the STAR Program.
Advisers who are selected to participate in STAR receive complimentary registration and hotel accommodation for two nights. Specific participation requirements are detailed on the CruiseWorld website at www.cruiseworldshow.com/star.
Traditional CruiseWorld registration opportunities are available for those who do not wish to apply for the STAR Program.
Whether attending as a STAR Program participant or a traditional attendee, CruiseWorld's robust programming provides value for all types of travel advisers, from the home-based professional to the cruise-centered advisers, the seasoned veterans and those new to the industry.
CruiseWorld will include three days of general sessions, during which attendees will hear updates, insights and trends from the top leadership in the cruise and tour community. Over the course of the event, breakout sessions will be held covering every segment of the leisure travel space. Certification programs and CLIA classes will be offered.
The signature one-day Exhibitor Showcase will be held on Thursday, Nov. 8 with companies representing diverse segments of the travel industry including airlines, attractions, business tools, car rental, cruise, destinations, hotels and resorts, professional services, tour operators and packaged vacations. Suppliers interested in joining the Exhibitor Showcase should contact Emmy Morales at [email protected].
For more information on Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld, the ship inspection roster and the STAR Program, visit www.cruiseworldshow.com.