Cruises Inc. has launched a recruitment website designed to appeal to a different audience than the host agency has in the past.
"The words we use, the terminology we use, the images we use are all intended to engage this younger ‘millennial’ audience that we believe is very important to bring into the industry," said Dwain Wall, senior vice president and general manager of Cruises Inc.
The millennial generation is another name for Generation Y, or people born in the 1980s and early ’90s. Wall believes that the travel industry’s survival depends on actively recruiting that demographic group into its ranks.
"We need to be realistic," he said. "The current travel agent population is aging rapidly, that’s a fact. It is concerning, and it’s something we all need to be paying more attention to.
"If we want to be in the business for the long term, we have to make sure we have a population we can recruit into the industry for the future."
The average Cruises Inc. agent is 50 years old, according to a survey it conducted in October. The company plans to do another survey at the end of this year to measure the results of its focus on attracting young agents.
Perhaps the most discernible feature of the millennial generation is the way it has embraced social media tools such as email, text messaging, Facebook and Twitter.
Wall noted that their hyperconnectivity gives younger people an advantage over the current travel agent community because "they are always within reach of their network."
"It’s not unusual for these people to have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on their Facebook site that they can instantly reach out to about a cruise they are planning or just went on and create excitement about it," Wall said.
Wall said that Cruises Inc. was not trying to recruit people into what one might consider a traditional travel agent role. Instead, he believes that the Cruises Inc. home-based model offers a workplace that fits the needs of their lifestyle, one that allows them to work from anywhere at any time.
"They can do it through a laptop, they can do it from the beach, they can do it from Starbucks, from their sofa while watching their favorite TV show," he said.
The new website, www.sellcruises.com, shows Cruise Inc. members such as Samantha, a 36-year-old "active mom" doing yoga with her daughter, and Nick, a 27-year-old "entrepreneur" using his laptop.
Beyond technology, Wall said that the milennial generation grew up traveling.
"Because they value travel and how important it is to their lifestyle, we also believe that they will value those that are in the profession," he said. "They grew up booking their own air and hotels online, and they really understand what it is to plan travel.
"They haven’t made money from it in the past."We’re giving them the opportunity to make money and make a business from what they grew up doing."