Monday, 7 October 2013

Carnival Corp.’s Arison praises agents in new ‘open letter’ ad

Carnival Corp.’s Arison praises agents in new ‘open letter’ ad

By Tom Stieghorst
Carnival Corp. is making it personal.

In a new advertisement scheduled to appear this week in several publications, including Travel Weekly, Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison spells out his appreciation for travel agents, citing their crucial role in making Carnival’s brands successful over the years.

The ad takes the form of an open letter and bears a photo of Arison and his signature at the bottom.
Micky Arison, CEOIt is an unusually direct communication from Arison, who recently stepped down as CEO of Carnival Corp. while retaining the title of chairman. In the letter, Arison also introduces his chosen successor as CEO, Arnold Donald, as someone travel agents can trust.

“Together, we will continue to work hard to exceed guests’ expectations and to position Carnival brands as your customers’ cruise lines of choice,” Arison writes.

Roger Frizell, vice president for corporate communications at Carnival Corp., said of Arison, “This is something he wanted to do as a way to reach out to the travel agent community to personally thank them for their support over the years, while also using the opportunity to introduce Arnold as our new CEO.”

The letter carries the logos of all 10 Carnival Corp. brands, clearly differentiating it from initiatives announced recently by Carnival Cruise Lines under the Carnival Conversations banner.

“The fact that it comes from the chairman says a great deal,” said Stewart Chiron, a Miami-based travel agent and a regular commentator on broadcast and cable networks.

Chiron said the letter sends a message of stability, direction and continuity at the top during a period of corporate transition.

It also reflects Arison’s genuine sympathy for agents, he said, adding, “I know his support for travel agents has been unwavering over the years.”

Meanwhile, the Carnival Cruise Lines brand continues to roll out changes built on the feedback it received in Carnival Conversations.

The latest volley is the reinstatement of a printed brochure, which was announced by Mike Julius, Carnival Cruise Lines’ senior managing director of U.S. trade sales, at the end of September.

“Travel agents have told us loud and clear that they want a printed brochure,” Julius said when making the announcement. “We’re thrilled to introduce one that is customized with the information that matters most to them.”

Although the number of pages is still being decided, the brochure will be printed in an 8½-by-11-inch format and will contain enough content to be more like a catalog than a brochure.

It will include deck plans, which agents complain are hard to share with clients in an online format, and detailed itineraries by destination as well as cabin photos, a Frequently Asked Questions page and an At-a-Glance ship-deployment grid.

Travel agents can pre-order the free brochures beginning Nov. 15 through Carnival Cruise Lines said it expects to begin shipping them late in the year, in time for the start of Wave season on Jan. 1.