Carnival Cruise Line is planning a wave of new WUATA (“Why Use a Travel Advisor”) parties in 2020. After launching the program last year with four WUATA events, Carnival is scheduling 100 WUATA parties in 100 cities across North America and the Caribbean in 2020.
Carnival’s target of 100 WUATA parties for 2020 will spotlight “100 reasons why [consumers should] use a travel advisor,” said Adolfo Perez, Carnival Cruise Line’s senior vice president of global sales and trade marketing.
“We’re the only supplier that I know that has done a consumer-facing campaign to tout the value of a travel advisor,” said Perez. “We were meeting up [to discuss] strategy for 2020 and we thought WUATA was a real home run. We thought, ‘We’ve got something here, how do we make it bigger?’”
The WUATA initiative is intended to raise awareness about the value travel advisors create for clients. This year’s program will feature monthly initiatives with 100 different giveaways, events and rewards planned, Perez said.
“We are launching 100 reasons to use a travel advisor, and each month we are announcing 100 of something,” he explained. “We have the 100 reward points this month, and we are announcing 100 parties across North America and the Caribbean and even Puerto Rico and Barbados,” for 2020, said Perez.
“We are making a big deal about this; we hope people get excited about this and realize that when we say we support travel advisors we really do,” he added.
Agents can go to goCCL.com to register for a nearby WUATA event. “We worked with BSMs to hone in on where to host these events,” Perez said. “We have 72 set up and ready to go already.”
Carnival officials are aiming to host 25 times more consumers at the company’s WUATA events compared with 2019. As it did last year, the cruise line is encouraging agents to bring one existing client and a potential client to the complimentary parties, which will be held at local movie theaters from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
The WUATA parties will be hosted by regional business development managers, and Perez will appear as a special guest presenter at a handful of the events. The parties will offer attendees product updates and information, industry insights, fun activities, classic movie snacks and prize giveaways. Consumers who attend WUATA parties will also receive an exclusive Carnival cruise offer from their travel advisor.
In 2019, “there were around 300 people at each event, and we asked travel advisors to bring a client and a not-yet client, so about two-thirds of those were consumers,” said Perez.
“We also reached consumers through our WUATA.com website [and] we had travel advisors promote the site. It really was for consumers, because we talked about things like the value of booking with a travel agent,” Perez said.
In addition, “We had testimonial videos with consumers on camera with their travel advisors,” said Perez. “We a WUATA Facebook page and John Heald also posted it on his Facebook page.”
Finally, “We had a contest that generated over 5,000 testimonials from clients nominating their travel advisor as Carnival’s most trusted travel advisor last year and revealed the winners at Cruiseworld,” Perez said.
Perez said while the promotion does not create “an immediate spike in business,” but, “I think it’s the right message to get out,” he said. “It’s something that is an ongoing journey for us and we are hopefully getting the message out to consumers as we do these events about why to use a travel advisor,” he said.
“So hopefully when they use a travel advisor they’ll think of Carnival, but ultimately [the program] really is [about] driving more support and business through travel agents. We have an obligation to support this distribution channel to become bigger and better. As we add more capacity and the industry adds more capacity it’s the right thing to do.”
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