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
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
"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."