WHY IT RATES: Carnival Cruise Line continues to appreciate, recognize and reward travel advisors who go above and beyond their call of duty.—Jessica Zickefoose, TravelPulse Associate Editor
The search was long and exhaustive, but in the end, Becky Smith, owner of Becky’s Travel Biz in Gainesville, Georgia, was named Carnival Cruise Line’s “Most Trusted Travel Advisor.” Smith was selected from more than 5,000 client nominations in the contest, which was part of Carnival’s yearlong Why Use a Travel Advisor, or WUATA, campaign. The runners-up were Kelly Brewer of Cruise Planners in Lowell, Arkansas; and David Sommers of SS Cruises in Huber Heights, Ohio.
Carnival’s Most Trusted Travel Advisor contest was a nationwide search that asked consumers to write a testimonial about why their travel advisor epitomizes the extra value an agent can provide when booking a vacation.
“We know how amazing travel advisors are and the value they bring to vacation planning, but reading these incredible stories about agents who went above and beyond or made real connections to their clients affirmed not only why travel advisors are essential, but why they totally rock,” said Adolfo Perez, Carnival’s senior vice president of global sales and trade marketing.
In her nomination, Brenda Boney said she had been impressed by the reviews Smith received and booked a cruise for herself and her three grandsons through Becky’s Travel Biz. However, when it came time for her final payment, Boney needed an extension. Smith, without personally knowing Boney, temporarily covered the payment to prevent her from losing her deposit.
“She did not know me, had never met me and did not even live in the same city and state I lived in,” wrote Boney in her nomination. “Becky is a person who cares about her clients and I have booked several cruises with her. Traveling with her on two cruises, she really is concerned about her clients … she really enjoys her work and it is displayed in the way she presents herself.”
“It’s stories like Brenda’s and the thousands of others we received that really get to the heart of what we are trying to communicate in the Why Use a Travel Advisor campaign,” added Perez. “WUATA was so successful during 2019 that we’re not done yet, so stay tuned in the new year.”
Smith, Brewer and Sommers all will receive roundtrip airfare and a free cruise on Carnival’s new Mardi Gras, set to debut in August 2020. In addition, Smith’s nominating client, Brenda Boney, also will receive airfare and a cruise on Mardi Gras, and Smith will receive a $1,000 cash prize as well as the commission she would have been paid on Boney’s cruise.
During the WUATA campaign, the message of Why Use a Travel Advisor was communicated across North America via a WUATA brochure, a consumer-friendly WUATA.com website, emails, newsletters, an exclusive Facebook page and at four WUATA Parties for advisors, clients and potential clients held in the U.S. and Canada throughout the year.
Clients and advisors posted more than 5,000 words and phrases to WUATA Word, an online word cloud that celebrates why travel agents rock. Advisors also showed their support for the program by purchasing WUATA T-shirts, with $20,000 in proceeds donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Carnival’s longtime charity partner.
The WUATA communications program resulted in media coverage in 204 articles that had a total readership of more than 32 million.
SOURCE: Carnival Cruise Line press release
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