CLIA Adds Higher Certification

Association launches new programs.

The Cruise Lines International Association is launching two new programs an Elite Cruise Counsellor certification and a new membership category for outside and independent agents.

“Among the many changes that we have seen in the travel agent distribution system in recent years has been the enormous growth in the number of outside agents and independent contractors,” said Bob Sharak, CLIA’s executive director.

The new Travel Agent Associate program costs $99 a year for outside/independent agents who are affiliated with a CLIA agency member.

Sharak noted that the outside segment has been difficult to recognize and reach.

“Since important communications from CLIA and its member lines typically are delivered to agency owner/managers only, these outside agents may be missing out of a great deal of information relevant to their business,” he said.

Travel Associates will receive ongoing e-mail news, promotional announcements and updates directly from CLIA and CLIA member cruise lines.

Other benefits include a kit including various CLIA materials and a listing on the CLIA Web site for consumers seeking an agent.

Meanwhile, agents who have already achieved the Master Cruise Counsellor certification “are telling us they were ready to receive a higher level of training and certification,” Sharak said.

To qualify for the new Elite Cruise Counsellor certification, agents with MCCs must complete 10 live or online CLIA seminars and exams.

They must also have cruised for at least seven days on a line not used to qualify for ACC or MCC, inspect five additional CLIA-member ships, and prove they have sold 50 cruise cabins within 12 consecutive months.

Qualifications for the ACC and MCC have also been changed for 2004.

In addition to educational requirements, applicants must now inspect three ships and sell 15 cabins over 12 months for the ACC, and have three ship inspections and 30 cabins sold for the MCC.

This year, CLIA allowed ACC and MCC candidates to use certain levels of cruise sales in lieu of ship inspections.

“We listened to our travel agents, and we heard that they want the bar raised, not lowered,” Sharak said. “We are maintaining the cruise sales element in 2004 but as a required product experience component in addition not an alternative to ship inspections.”