Cruises Lines Roll Out New Online Training Options

by Andrew Sheivachman

Advances in cruise training options for agents are evolving almost as quickly as the cruise product itself, with several lines recently introducing new online programs.

Here’s a sampling of cruise line offerings.

Azamara World Academy
Azamara Club Cruises this summer launched Azamara World Academy. The four-course program for travel sellers integrates professional development with information on the Azamara brand and its cruises.

The first course in the set covers Azamara as a brand, followed by courses on cruise destinations, Azamara’s booking engine and the company’s policies and terms and conditions.

“We became a more-inclusive brand experience a few years ago, and it was a tough challenge to get the training materials out as quickly as we liked,” said Edie Bornstein, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Azamara Club Cruises.

The Azamara World Academy program is expected to take four hours to complete. Agents who complete the program can earn a free voyage for themselves after booking three Azamara trips within 90 days.

“Agents want to train when they want to, at their convenience,” said Bornstein. “We still offer a myriad of seminars at sea, so if they don’t want to learn online they can get training onboard.”

Norwegian’s social media focus
A new focus on social media has made it simpler for travel sellers to get quick answers from Norwegian Cruise Line representatives, Camille Olivere, senior vice president of sales, North America, told Travel Market Report.

“I have over 200 Facebook friends who are travel partners, and they tend to interact with me over the course of the day on things that may come up,” she said. “It’s sort of on-demand learning.”

Norwegian offers a variety of educational tools and sessions for agents, ranging from ship visits to online education through Norwegian Cruise University. A monthly webinar led by Olivere regularly draws about 1,000 agents.

Seabourn Academy
Seabourn Cruise Line introduced Seabourn Academy, which teaches agents about selling luxury cruises and includes education credits leading to certification from CLIA, The Travel Institute and CITC.

“Since we launched in March, we’ve had over 400 graduates,” said Doug Seagle, Seabourn’s vice president of business development, North America. “Many agencies are mandating that their agents take the program, because they realize there is a greater profit in selling luxury cruises.”

Seabourn Academy offers six training modules, allowing agents to choose what they most want to learn. In addition to destination and brand education, the modules include: Introduction to Luxury Cruising, Selling to Luxury Clients and Support to Help You Make Sales.

Sales and marketing most useful
Feedback from agents indicates that the sales and marketing piece of the training are most useful in expanding business, according to Seagle.

“There’s definitely a trend toward more agents wanting to sell more upscale cruises, because of profitability,” he said. “They need a different type of training to understand a new mindset. It’s a different kind of customer, and that kind of training is really selling and marketing to that type of client.”

Cunard, Carnival
Other cruise lines offering online training include Cunard and Carnival. Cunard Academy offers 25 short courses online covering a variety of subjects – from destination education to sales tips. Each course lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

Carnival offers “nine innings” of online training for new agents, of whom more than 18,000 agents have participated so far. The company also conducts two-day training seminars in home ports around the world.

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