Association of Cruise Experts courts Thomas Cook and TUI Travel

The Association of Cruise Experts is attempting to recruit multiples and aspiring cruise industry staff as members.

ACE director of business development Andy Harmer is continuing to talk to Thomas Cook and TUI Travel to encourage them to sign up their high-street agencies to the association. ACE is currently made up of 1,200 independent and homeworker travel agencies and 34 cruiselines.

Agency membership of ACE increased by 45% last year and is increasing at a rate of 2% per month.

Harmer said: “I think the multiples will see the value of what we do and I hope they will join. We will continue to talk to them.”

Up until now, Thomas Cook, Thomson and First Choice have not joined the association, partly because they do not operate as cruise-only specialists.

“I would love to have all agents on board and see more engaged in cruise by this time next year. The multiples are the main companies not on board.”

Harmer admitted students or aspiring cruise industry staff could also benefit from membership in future. “It would be a sensible fit,” he said.

Meanwhile, ACE is to double the number of ship visits and expand its onboard workshops for agents this year.

There are plans for 155 ship visits, compared with about 70 last year, and ACE will host 10 Learning at Sea workshops compared with two in 2007.

The Learning at Sea programme includes short cruises with agent workshops on board. These cover how to organise cruise promotion events, write press releases and successfully target customers.

Hurtigruten has already hosted a workshop, while Island Cruises, Fred Olsen, P&O Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines are taking part during the year.

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