The cruise association hopes its new initiatives will drive bookings and make the sector more mainstream. Hollie-Rae Merrick reports

Clia UK & Ireland is teaming up with The Advantage Travel Partnership and technology provider Zolv to encourage more agents to start selling cruise.

The cruise association is launching the Take the Clia Cruise Challenge as it looks to drive cruise bookings and make the sector a more mainstream part of the holiday industry.

Andy Harmer, director of Clia UK & Ireland, said he was looking to help five agencies transform their cruise business.

The scheme will initially be solely for Advantage members, but it will eventually be opened up to more agents. Applicants cannot be existing Clia members.

“We want to demonstrate that in less than a year, you can significantly grow the size of your cruise business with a little help from the cruise industry,” said Harmer.

“This sector is one of, if not the, best when it comes to working with the trade and educating agents on the products available. And we believe agents who haven’t sold cruise can really benefit from doing so.”

The five chosen agencies will get free membership to Clia for 2015. This will include access to the Learning Academy, webinars, industry news, a digital brochure bank, and access to exclusive Clia events.

In addition, agencies will get two free registrations to the Selling Cruise Conference and the River Cruise Conference, a one-to-one advice session on social media from a Clia expert and a cruise sales training session. They will also get advice from a cruise marketing manager, consultation on PR and access to Zolv’s Full Picture technology.

They will also get one place each at the Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards in July.

Claire Brighton, senior commercial manager at The Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “All of our members probably touch cruise in some way, but not everyone is actively selling cruise.

“When we ran a series of cruise conferences last year, they were in partnership with Clia. But of those that attended, we were surprised at how few were members of Clia. We saw an opportunity and this is a great way for five members to grow their cruise business.”

Zolv managing director Olly Wenn said: “Our Full Picture technology will help make the transition for new-to-cruise agents a bit easier.”

To enter, email Claire Brighton at

New-to-cruise award added at Agent Achievement Awards

Clia is looking to reward an agent who has taken the leap into selling cruise holidays.

The association is working with Travel Weekly on a new award to be presented at this year’s Agent Achievement Awards, to be held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London on July 7.

The Clia New-to-Cruise award is open to any agency that began selling cruise over the past 12 months. Entries will be assessed by a panel of judges, who will create a shortlist of nominees ahead of the awards ceremony.

Andy Harmer, director of Clia UK & Ireland, said it was important to reward agents who “take the jump” into selling cruise.

“We know it’s a big step and a big commitment for agents to start selling cruise,” he said. “But it’s a commitment that pays off because the cruise industry has established great ties with the trade and those relationships are key to driving the sector.

“It’s an exciting industry to work in, with lots of growth potential. There are more than 25 ship launches planned this year across the ocean and river cruise sectors, and lots of opportunities for agents. If there’s a time to start selling cruise, it’s now!”

The shortlisted agents will head for a night of glitz and glamour at the Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards, where they could leave having picked up the the Clia New-to-Cruise gong.

Lucy Huxley, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, said: “We’re delighted to be introducing an award, in association with Clia UK & Ireland, to find the best new-to-cruise agent in 2015.

“The cruise industry has been clear that its growth will come via new agents switch-selling their customers on to cruise holidays, and it is exactly those agents who are working hard to break into this lucrative and growing sector that we are looking to reward.”