CruiseWorld trade show: Old and new friends

Travel agent Lorryn Langton of Pink Pineapple Travel Co. in Fishers, Ind., stopped for a photo opp at the Hawaii Tourism Authority's booth. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

FORT LAUDERDALE -- For beginners, CruiseWorld is a chance to start making connections. For veteran attendees, it's a family reunion of sorts. They all came together Thursday afternoon for the trade show, where the floor buzzed with hundreds of advisers and over 200 suppliers.

"This is my fifth year at CruiseWorld, and every year it gets better and better," said Craig Satterfield, an agent with Cruise Travel Outlet in Salem, N.H. "I think it's a combination of seeing friends again as well as making new friends, suppliers as well as agents. One of the most important parts of something like this is the networking with other travel professionals along with vendors themselves -- you have to make time to do that."

Sally Black, director of the Family Travel Association and founder of agency Vacationkids in Kunkletown, Pa., called CruiseWorld "a family reunion for me." 

Some agents are bringing others into the fold, like Jill LaBarre of Jill's Great Escapes in Orlando. LaBarre is a CruiseWorld veteran, and this year encouraged fellow Oasis Travel Network agents D'Lane Maselunas of D'Lane Maselunas Travel in Dallas and Kareem George of Culture Traveler in Detroit to attend the show for the first time.

The busy CruiseWorld trade show floor. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

"When I first started in the business, CruiseWorld was very welcoming, very opening -- the education was incredible," LaBarre said on the trade show floor. 

That first time at CruiseWorld five years ago, LaBarre was new to the business. She attended a Norwegian Cruise Line webinar recorded there.

"It gave me the confidence I could do this," she said. "It's no coincidence that Norwegian's my No. 1 supplier."

Lorryn Langton of Pink Pineapple Travel Co. in Fishers, Ind., has been in the industry for over three years. She was previously a hosted agent, but this year decided to go out on her own. She had read that CruiseWorld was a good place to learn how to take a business to the next level.

"So far it has exceeded my expectations -- the entertainment, the food, the amount of content with the education," she said at the trade show Thursday. "I'm looking forward to even more tomorrow. I think it's going to be great."

Exhibitors also benefit, like Kelly Bergin, president of Oasis. In addition to seeing her existing affiliates and meeting with suppliers, Bergin said she is looking to connect with new agents who are unaffiliated with a host agency.

It's also a chance for suppliers to meet with the frontline agents who sell their products. 

Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications for insurance company Allianz, was doing just that on Thursday afternoon.

"Normally, you're just going through your day and you don't have that interaction and that opportunity for people to give you feedback," he said. "It's just terrific."

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