RCL Cares, a program started to help travel advisors navigate the coronavirus relief bill, has received more than 3,000 requests for assistance in its first week.
The sales reps for four Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brands – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea and Azamara – were all trained by professionals in the intricacies of the $2 trillion CARES Act to help steer travel agents in the right direction.
“We decided right away we wanted to assist,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and trade support & service for Royal Caribbean International. “Without travel partners, we aren’t in business.”
A special desk is being set up for travel agents who need further assistance.
Carol Cabezas, vice president and COO for Azamara, said the sales reps can be the “friendly, familiar face” for advisors. “Working with the government can be daunting,” she said, with some agents wondering where to even begin.
The executives made the comments in a conference call with trade press on April 6.
When asked what the industry would look like in six months, Freed said there may be some consolidation of brick-and-mortar agencies but that independent agents would likely ride it out. “In time they’ll grow their business back,” she said. “That’s why we want to make sure we have a healthy distribution system.”
Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of sales and trade support & service at Celebrity Cruises, said the sales team also is still doing calls, although virtually. “Our sales force is still being our sales force,” she said, so that business can ramp up the minute it is able to.
Cabezas added: “Our sales team, and I’m sure all the sales teams across our organization, remain highly engaged with all our travel partners. It’s entirely virtual to try to help them retain business or find a little bit of new business. I have to say, it’s surprising but true, there is still business coming through.”
Travel advisors can reach out to RCL Cares on the Cruising Power agent website.
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