This week are in Southern California at the Avoya Travel conference. What happens at a conference hosted by a host agency and attended by travel suppliers and travel agents? Keep reading to find out day.
View from our room. Can you see the Queen Mary 2? That's where we are going for dinner tomorrow night!
First day of the Avoya Travel Conference
We started out "speed dating" with many suppliers presenting themselves to small groups of agents. We moved every 10 minutes or so to a new supplier so we only got the highlights. As an Avoya top agent I was invited to participate in the roundtable discussion with other agents. Our goal was to help them grow their business by giving them insight into how we became successful.
Oceania provided a list of Avoya exclusive offers and a description of their pre-cruise savings programs (cash savings, reduced deposits and shipboard credit).
Next, Crystal listed the many upgrades Crystal has done on their ocean ships (ex: some of their suites now have washers/ dryers right in the room). Then, they described Crystal's new river cruises. These target the Ritz Carlton crowd and include a very low low crew to guest ratio, very large staterooms and very high end food.
A second Vista class ship featuring IMAX theatre and a brew-house and expanded Cuba itineraries were highlighted. What's a travel conference without Carnival?
The Insight Vacation group described their Luxury Gold VIP tours as well as their Insight tours that feature authentic dining (dining with local families for example) and business class type seating on the buses.
Contiki provided an overview of the 18 - 35 year old focused tours. The tours are socially focused because 60% of Contiki customers are solo travelers. Contiki features activities the under 35 year old crowd really loves.
Golfing packages with AmaWaterways
Next, AmaWaterways previewed their new AmaMagna ship featuring huge staterooms, multiple dining venues (including an in galley Chef's table), a health and wellness studio. They also highlighted the new Golf program along the Danube - a great way for golfing vacations to include spouses.
We then heard from Royal Caribbean who emphasized their innovative technology at sea. They are now converting their older ships that do 3 - 5 day itineraries to also include the latest technology. And of course, there's always deals available.
All ships are less than 312 passengers and go to the less well known ports. In response to a question on seasickness on their small sailing yachts, Windstar noted that they sail close to the shore and tend to use the motor unless the seas are very calm.
Finally Celebrity highlighted their new Edge ship, the new Celebrity Flora expedition ship for the Galapagos and their fleet modernization using Edge concepts. They also spoke about Suite Class staterooms and offered some super savings for specific sailings this summer in Alaska Bermuda and Caribbean as well as other great deals (savings per person, free perks) through April 2020.
We heard from the Avoya call center and discovered traffic in 2018 is up 22% over 2017 year on year. We also saw statistics on email, price comparison and search engine lead patterns. The Avoya Travel Conference is a great way to see some of the behind the scenes happenings.
Food and drink
Members of the Chairman and Presidents club ($2M or more in sales) attended a welcome reception with Avoya leadership. This was followed by dinner where each agent sat at a table hosted by a travel supplier. We sat with the Celebrity representatives and got to know their national sales managers a little better. We always end up building better relationships at the Avoya travel conference.
One and one
Finally we had an opportunity to meet with some suppliers one on one. We spoke with Globus brands (Globus, Monograms and Avalon) as we are working with a group developing a specific itinerary. The Globus folks had some good ideas which we will follow up.