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I am not going to sugarcoat this message—the team and I have too much respect for you to do that—nor will I include my signature maritime metaphors to add a little humor into the message. Instead, I’m going to give it to you unvarnished:
this is a defining moment for people worldwide, and how we react to it, deal with it, and learn from it will determine our quality of life for the rest of our lives.
In the past days and weeks, I have received countless emails, instant messages, texts, social media comments, and phone calls from CLIA members across the United States and Canada, each sharing their individual struggles in grappling with a never-before-seen inundation of client cancellations and the historic voluntary and temporary 30-day suspension of CLIA Cruise Line Members’ departures from the United States, as well as operational suspensions by cruise lines in other regions around the world.
I have spoken with CLIA members at every level and from every category of the cruise industry: cruise line presidents and trade sales and marketing executives; CEOs of billion-dollar consortia; senior leaders of the largest franchises, hosts, and wholly-owned agencies; mom-and-pop agency owners and managers; full- and part-time travel advisors employed by brick-and-mortar agencies; and outside travel advisors and independent contractor advisors working from home. I have listened to them all and continue to listen to even more of our members, every day, gaining an understanding from their perspective and taking away key learnings of the support they need.
As your cruise industry trade association, it is the responsibility of the CLIA North America Travel Trade Membership Team (my direct colleagues and myself) to help you get through this unprecedentedly difficult time as smartly and swiftly as possible and arrive on the other side of it stronger and wiser than ever before. It is our job to provide you with the tools and resources to help you preserve and protect your livelihood, now and throughout your entire career.
With that context, I share the following crisis best practices I have compiled from the hundreds of travel professionals with whom I’ve spoken, this month:
Now, more than ever, travel advisors need to regularly visit www.cruising.org for the latest information on how the cruise industry is dealing with the crisis, remembering that you are one of the most important parts of the cruise industry. We have been updating our toolkit regularly to provide you with tools and resources to help you maintain your clients’ confidence and trust. Use them and share the messages and stories that are based in fact; information and evidence you can use to create awareness and educate your audience.
Finally—and most importantly—be ever mindful of the reality that, while cruising may be momentarily paused, our $150 billion industry will be back… better than ever before. We will be so much stronger for what we have endured together and how we reacted to it, dealt with it, and what we learned from it. For as passionate as we in the trade are about cruise travel, there are millions of consumers around the world who feel the same way. The demand will endure and grow and so will our businesses.