The opening address at the CLIA Conference 2017 came from chair of CLIA UK & Ireland and VP of Royal Caribbean, Stuart Leven.
After welcoming the delegates, Leven took some time to reflect on the cruise industry’s place today and his predictions for the future.
Following the news that this week’s devastating terrorist attack in Manchester claimed the life of Westoe Travel apprentice, Chloe Rutherford, Leven observed a minute’s silence and considered how today’s difficult geopolitical climate effects the cruise industry.
Leven said, ’There are lots of things going on in the world at this present moment in time, its been a very sad week that has touched some of our own. It gives us time to come together as friends and colleagues. It gives us time to think about what our role is in the travel industry.’
Leven went on to recall how he was told at a young age by his first boss in travel, ‘your job is to sell dreams and, if you do your job really well, you not only sell dreams but you sell memories.’
It would seem that the industry has been successful in selling these dreams since 6900 people, according to CLIA, were on cruise ships last night; 8/10 of them had their dream sold to them by the delegates at the CLIA Conference.
‘We all have a role to play’, Leven continued, ’there are some geopolitical issues around the world, some horrendous things happening, but our job is to sell the dreams.’
Leven then gave delegates his view on why CLIA is so important to the travel industry.
CLIA’s three reasons for living, according to Steven Leven:
- Educating those who have yet to work out that selling cruise holidays to their customers is a great thing to do.
- Talking to the travels agents who already sell cruise. The products are always changing; there are 50 new ships in the pipeline. It’s important to keep communicating so that they can sell better.
- Looking after the reputation of our industry. At the present time, our industry in the UK & Ireland is about to hit Brexit; main concerns will be the freedom of guests and staff to cross borders and the price of tickets, due to possible changes to customs charges.
On the topic of Brexit, Leven went on to say that: “At some point next year, people will be booking holidays for 2019, with some uncertainty about whether the will need a visa to travel to Europe etc. It is our job as travel partners and travel agents to give confidence and reassurance to our guests that the industry is doing all the right things to protect them.”
To conclude he said: “I’m looking at a room that last year sold over 1.8million dreams to the people of the UK & Ireland and if you look at the repeat booking we are getting as an industry, I can guarantee you are selling the right dreams.”