Thursday,  April 9, 2020  9:43 pm

"A huge learning experience": TravelOnly's Workshop at Sea wraps in Fort Lauderdale

"A huge learning experience": TravelOnly's Workshop at Sea wraps in Fort Lauderdale
TravelOnly's 2019 Workshop at Sea took place on board Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. Photo courtesy of TravelOnly.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

TravelOnly recently wrapped its 2019 Workshop at Sea on board Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas – an immersive event that gave travel advisors an opportunity to connect with key suppliers first-hand and develop their business.

“We continue to focus on educating our travel advisors on cruising and growing their cruise business,” Ian Elliott, vice-president of retail sales and marketing at TravelOnly, told PAX. “Dedicated conferences at sea engage our advisors and provide an opportunity for our preferred partners to join us on board for dedicated training and networking.”

The sailing from Nov. 21-25, which travelled from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel and back, welcomed 30 TravelOnly advisors and four of TravelOnly’s preferred partners: Stephanie McDonald of Royal Caribbean International; Aaron Crawford of Air Canada Vacations; Meaghan McMahon of Collette Vacations; and Justin Wegiel of G Adventures.

Steering the week’s agenda was Elliott himself alongside Holly McBean, TravelOnly’s vice-president of training.

SHIP TO SHIP. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas (left) recently unveiled a $100 million dollar makeover. Photo courtesy of TravelOnly.

“Some of our advisors were on a cruise ship for the very first time, so the entire cruise was a huge learning experience from embarkation to debarkation,” Elliott told PAX.  

Attendees were given a chance to tour Independence of the Seas, which recently unveiled a $100 million USD makeover that includes new indoor and outdoor features, such as Playmakers Bar and Grill, Fish and Ships, the Sky Pad and the Perfect Storm duelling waterslides, and an amplified pool deck.

Workshops, supplier presentations, training seminars, one-to-one sessions and team-building activities (such as a holiday-themed pub crawl and laser tag battle) were also held.

“At TravelOnly, we know that getting advisors on board cruise ships is the fastest way to grow their cruise sales,” Elliott said. 

TravelOnly’s Workshop at Sea is similar to the host agency’s Symposium at Sea, which PAX covered exclusively last year, except presented on a smaller scale.

WATCH: Behind-the-scenes of TravelOnly's Symposium at Sea

“The Workshop at Sea is a much smaller, more intimate conference,” Elliott explained. “This allowed for closer connections and deeper discussions between the advisors, partners and TravelOnly staff.”

Elliott said both of TravelOnly’s conferences at sea are impactful events, yielding “year-over-year growth” in sales by those who participate.

“Advisors sell what they know and being on board a ship for a conference allows them to experience that cruise line exactly like their customers,” Elliott told PAX.

However, the greatest amount of education comes from the networking and peer-to-peer discussions that occurs, daily, when advisors learn from each other and from onboard partners, Elliott noted.

“Advisors sell what they know and being on board a ship for a conference allows them to experience that cruise line exactly like their customers,” Ian Elliott told PAX.

“They discuss their sales goals, tips, tricks and, most importantly, hard learned lessons that come with experience,” Elliott said. “There is no greater teachable moment when an advisor puts up his or her hand, and says, “Learn from me. I made a mistake, and here’s how you can prevent it in the future.’”

The 'busy year' ahead

TravelOnly recently celebrated its 45th Anniversary in Las Vegas, a mega event at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino, which PAX also covered exclusively, and that brought together more than 100 travel advisors and 50 supplier partners.

Elliott said 2020 will be a “busy year” for TravelOnly as it continues to invest in tools and programs that help its advisors grow their business.

READ MORE: Family, gratitude takes centre stage at TravelOnly's 45th anniversary

“At our Las Vegas conference, we committed to helping each advisor double their business and we are right on track with that initiative,” Elliott told PAX. “Advisors can look forward to the roll out of our revolutionary new consumer websites and lead generation tools, as well as multiple training, conferences and networking opportunities.”

On January 25th, TravelOnly will celebrate the best of the best at the TravelOnly Achievements and Distinction Awards. After that, the company will host its All-Star Conference at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya, its coveted President’s Club cruise onboard the AmaMagna, as well as its National Conference at Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico.

TravelOnly will end 2020 with its largest Symposium at Sea yet onboard the brand new MSC Meraviglia in November.

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