US travel agents who achieve Commodore status in training for Cunard and Princess Cruises sell seven times more cruises than rivals who have not completed the course, according to Carnival research.
Carnival’s US academy has been adapted for the UK and is due to launch this summer. It promises to take cruise training from the equivalent of GCSE level to degree standard.
Bosses of Complete Cruise Solution, the UK trade sales arm for Carnival UK, say agents will have to dedicate a substantial amount of time to complete the full course, which comprises modules on destinations and ships. Each module will take between 30 minutes and 45 minutes to complete.
CCS hopes to create a sense of pride among agents who have achieved Commodore status for its three brands – P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises – similar to that seen in the US where agents proudly wear their badges to demonstrate their expertise.
Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ executive vice-president for customer service, sales and marketing, said: “This new training represents a significant commitment from both the lines and the agents.
“The Princess and Cunard academy in the US has won all sorts of awards. We have involved company experts from the most senior level to write the courses. It’s time-consuming – but it gives agents the edge.
“We have seen a tremendous response in the US in terms of tens of thousands of agents using the training programme. The difference has been quite radical in terms of those who have done the training and those who have not. This is absolutely for professional frontline agents who use it to attract clients.”
Swartz said the new training would help lines find out which agents were most dedicated to the brands and who could then be offered additional support.
“If any agent is prepared to give us that many hours of their time, that encourages us to give them additional resources,” she added.
New Princess UK general manager Paul Ludlow said the new UK training had been devised following focus group feedback which found agents wanted personal recognition for their achievement.
“The academy will give them the ability to show consumers the level they have got to for each of our brands,” he said.
“We have a lot of testimonies from US agents to say what a difference it has made to their businesses.”
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