By Michael Akana at Jun. 6. 2010.

       

      Michael with ship in background in Vancouver

      Michael at One Canada Place

      Cruise3Sixty is a sure bet conference, delivering the Wow-Factor with a great selection of workshops, panels, speakers, ships for inspection and entertainment.  The Cruise Lines International Association and Michael J. Pierson and Associates again hit it out of the ballpark.

       

       

      CLIA has the conference planning down pat–registration, timing, ship inspections, program, acknowledgements, sound, video, food—it all worked and worked well.  There were a few logistical glitches–food ran short at the reception at the Aquarium.  The venue and buses were a bit overloaded for the event.  I guess the event was way more popular than anticipated.  When we saw attendees load enough food for dinner, we decided to forego the lines, enjoy the great displays and head to the Fish House for a fantastic meal.

       

      I love the first unveiling of CLIA classes at Cruise3Sixty when Dr. Marc Mancini demonstrates the presentation.  This time we attended Getting Connected–A Primer on Social Media Networking–another great addition to the growing selection of CLIA trainings.  Thank you CLIA for providing tools that have a wide appeal and relevance for the travel industry as well as usefulness in other professions.  

       

      This time I skipped the technology center, opting for a few great destination workshops–Cruise Baltic, Copenhagen/Stockholm and New Zealand.

       

      As usual, the Trade Show had a great selection of travel suppliers.  I overheard one say that this was the busiest trade show they had been to.

       

      The general sessions were spectacular.  There were some innovations that may need to be developed for future shows.  Cruise Critic’s blogged comments were great when in synch with the program, but when there was a delay the overhead display of the blog was distracting from the panel discussions.  Yet, Terry’s Tweet Spot, where Terry Dale, President of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) posed microblog questions tweeted from the audience to panelists from time to time was a great way to vary the pace of the program.

      A few segments fell flat.  The panel discussion “Does Gender Affect Decision Making and Leadership?”  offered examples of women who with drive and determination have achieved success in the cruise travel business, but the approach was a bit superficial, failing to hit hard on very real barriers to opportunity in our society.  A particularly challenging day of a downturn in the stock market on Friday set a bit of a somber mood on the crowd.  Fortunately there was a lot of variety and the recurring themes of social media marketing and mentoring hit home.

       “Do You Need to Be More Social” did hit hard with great information and strategies for connecting to Gen-Y Millennials.

       

      The over the top, out of the ballpark keynote presentation by Alison Levine was worth coming to the conference for.  This was one of the best motivational talks I’ve ever heard as well as the best story of climbing Mt. Everest.  The analogies to selling travel in an unpredictable market were relevant and riveting.  Also over the top–WOW–and by the at hip slick cool and awesome was the entertainment–Blue Man Group from NCL and 42Five, an a cappella group from Celebrity were stand up and clap-hoot-and-holler awesome.

       

      For the coming year the challenge for all of us travel professionals is to get connected.  Be online in real time.  There is the potential for explosive sales increase and a sure bet that the conference experience will be even more rewarding.

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