After two years apart, a group of TravelOnly advisors sailed the brand-new Carnival Mardi Gras from April 9-16 for a Canadian Seminar at Sea, which was hosted by Carnival's Canadian Business Development Director Marilisa De Simone and Business Development Manager Kim Tobias.
Representing the largest number of advisors onboard, the TravelOnly team had the opportunity to experience everything the Carnival Mardi Gras had to offer and share their experiences with their clients, friends and family through social media.
Departing from Port Canaveral, the Mardi Gras travelled to Nassau as well as Carnival’s private destinations – Amber Cove and Grand Turk.
“All travel advisors on board were impressed and wowed by the largest fun ship in Carnival’s fleet!” TravelOnly said in a release issued Tuesday (April 19).
At 180,000 gross tons, the ship easily managed the 5,900 guests on board (almost full capacity), through a unique ship design which featured six distinct neighbourhoods with tons of complimentary options, giving advisors a “taste” of what Mardi Gras was all about.
Lots to see and do
“I absolutely loved the dining options onboard the Mardi Gras. The quality of the food exceeded my expectations,” said TravelOnly advisor Greg Tom.
Tom, who sells large cruise groups, felt that the ship would be very well received by his clients.
Fellow colleague, Terry Declare agreed: “There is just so much to do see and do on board – from the brand new Summer Landing pools and hot tubs, dozens of restaurants and bars, the ropes course and the BOLT rollercoaster – it’s a ship that you will have to cruise multiple times in order to experience everything.”
Learning at sea
Apart from experiencing the excellent cuisine onboard, TravelOnly advisors attended two days of training with the Carnival BDMs and increased their knowledge of the Carnival brand as well as marketing and social media tips and training.
Marilisa De Simone was thrilled with the attendance and participation of the advisors when onboard.
“I loved seeing the advisors explore every inch of the ship and sharing their experiences with their clients,” she said.
The BDM team created a social media contest encouraging advisors to post about certain topics each day including the traditional Carnival Sail Away Party; private islands Amber Cove and Grand Turk; as well as many of the unique attractions onboard – like the only rollercoaster at sea, BOLT.
Kim Tobias, the newly-appointed BDM for Western Canada, felt that they achieved one of the main objectives for their Canadian Seminar at Sea – getting travel advisors to travel again.
“There is nothing more important than building confidence for Canadian travellers. If respected travel experts are out there, showing how easy, safe and exciting cruising is, we know that they will influence others to start travelling again,” she said.
TravelOnly Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Ian Elliott was equally impressed with the caliber of advisor onboard.
“What I really loved about this particular group of advisors was that all of them were 100 per cent present for our activities, training and events. You could tell that this was an important learning experience for them and that they will be translating this seminar into real, actionable, marketing strategies to grow their sales,” Elliott said.
Ask the experts
TravelOnly held informal sessions as a team to discuss opportunities to partner together, collaborate on cruise group opportunities and better understand the strategies top producers were using to succeed in the current climate.
Top producers Pat Probert and Amanda Beaver provided their expertise and knowledge to junior advisors and discussed how they were navigating the rapid acceleration of business.
“Even though our teams are exceptionally busy, we know how important it is to get out there and travel, to experience ships like the Carnival Mardi Gras, so we can properly sell it to our clients. We can take the knowledge we’ve learned this week and start implementing marketing and sales strategies immediately,” said Beaver.
Beaver, alongside affiliate, Aaron Crawford, held separate meetings throughout the week to work on their business plan and groups for 2023 and 2024.
Pat Probert, who sailed on the original Mardi Gras, was blown away by the quality of the ship and amenities when onboard.
“Night after night there was so much action going on that I was finding myself doing three or four different things after dinner!” Probert said.
Even though there are 22 available dining options on Mardi Gras, Probert said he was still able to get to more than half of them including 555 Steakhouse and Guy's Burgers, while enjoying much of the live music onboard at the various venues and shows.
At a farewell cocktail party, De Simone admitted that the experience left her a bit emotional.
“This seminar has been a year in the making and to finally be able to travel again, with an exceptional group of travel advisors, is literally a dream come true,” she said. “I am so happy they got to experience this ship and a brand I am incredibly passionate about. I know that they will confidently sell Carnival after this trip and can’t wait to see what the rest of 2022 brings!”