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Members & Travel Agents

Are You Ready for the Return of Cruise? By Beth Kelly Hatt, President, Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence, the FCCA’s Official Training Partner

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s your destination ready to welcome cruise guests? Both FCCA and CLIA are talking about soon being able to welcome cruise ships in our destinations again. FCCA’s Michele Paige said in a recent mailing that their membership was built on the foundation of creating a family of partners that now more than ever will play a fundamental part in bringing our industry back stronger than ever. And CLIA’s Kelly Craighead said that the cruise industry has demonstrated leadership and a proven ability to resume operations responsibly – as evidenced by the successful sailings in Europe and other parts of the world. With both associations saying we need to be ready, with vaccines now widely distributed, we are seeing momentum. And the question remains, is your port destination ready for the return of cruise guests? Are your stakeholders prepared? What is the sentiment in your communities about cruise returning? Have your experiences and tours adapted to the changes in protocols and consumer interests? In a recent survey sent to destinations and tour operators that Aquila has worked with over the years, the respondents’ top concerns when asked were: 1) how their communities would react to the return of cruise, 2) how everyone would all feel about the safety of the communities, and 3) 30 SECOND QUARTER 2021 | TRAVEL & CRUISE

would they prepare and all be ready with the proper protocols, tours and precautions that needed to be implemented. Those are all things that are important to talk about and have addressed prior to that first call. For a destination to be ready for the return, there are several measures that are needed and here are a few important recommendations to ensuring a successful return of cruise: PREPARE YOUR STAKEHOLDERS Working together is more important than ever for all stakeholders in a community from the port to tourism to the tour operators and the retail and transportation sectors. Give your stakeholders the opportunity to collaborate and work together on the plans, protocols and procedures that will need to be implemented for the successful resumption of cruise in the destination. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY In the last Travel & Cruise article in the first quarter, I expanded on tips to prepare your community and the importance of communication. A good communication plan that manages expectations, focuses on shared key messages, and monitors community sentiment is crucial to ensuring the community embraces cruise. You cannot over communicate!

HELP YOUR FRONTLINES AND TOUR OPERATORS BE READY Frontlines are responsible for the safety of your guests, but the expectations of your guests go beyond that to include excellent service, professional behaviors, and managing difficult situations. Cruise guests want to enjoy their time and take away fond memories of your destination. And this is a time where Tour Operators need help reimagining their experiences and tours. How can we provide options that will give your guests exciting and enjoyable experiences that respond to today’s trends and opportunities? The expectations are now higher, and it will be especially important to get it right as the successful return of the cruise industry to your region depends on it. Aquila continues to offer training, virtually and online, to help with destinations and tour operators’ needs, and I invite you to check all the new programs at www.cruiseexcellence.com. The cruise industry is made up of incredibly resilient people. Cruise will return…demand from avid cruisers to set sail again is at an all-time high – and we want you to be ready! Beth Kelly Hatt is the President of Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence, the FCCA’s official training partner. Contact Beth for more information at Beth@CruiseExcellence.com.

Profile for Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association

Travel & Cruise 2nd Quarter 2021  

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