The Cover of Royal Caribbean’s TAG features 15 travel agents. // © 2013 Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International
The cover of the 15th anniversary edition of Royal Caribbean International’s Travel Agent Guide (TAG) features15 North American travel agents from the U.S. and Canada on the cover, with substantial results for both the agents and the company.
“This is one of the many ways that Royal Caribbean demonstrates its Loyal to You Always commitment to the travel agent community,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and services “We wish that we could picture every travel agent on the 15th Anniversary Travel Agent Guide, as they are all stars to Royal Caribbean, and we appreciate their continued support.”
The message certainly got through to the 15 agents, who praised Royal for the time, effort and money that they put into the shoot.
“It could have been just a quick bow to agents,” said Emily Nash, co-owner of Nash Travels in Elk Grove, Calif. “But they treated us like royalty, and there were dozens of people working to make it perfect. Nobody invests like that unless they really mean it, and it underlined what I already knew: Royal really does care about agents, and I can be sure my clients will receive wonderful treatment onboard their ships. I tell them so.”
The line took the 15 agents to the design district in Miami, where they had rented a warehouse and hired a professional team to do the shoot. The results can be seen on the video of the making of the cover at CruisingPower.com/TAGcover, showing agents preparing to be photographed.
“The shoot was exactly how I would imagined that it would be, with so many people behind the scenes making it happen,” Carolyn Orf, travel counselor with Dugan’s Travels in Littleton, Colo., who is an ice skater on the cover. “Photographers were going ‘beautiful, beautiful’ and adjusting your position, makeup people and hairdressers got you ready. I had never worn red pants before in my life, and it was really fun.”
It was more than fun for Orf, who has a family and works from home. When she posted her selection as one of Royal’s cover agents, she says her clients started taking her more seriously and her business has already increased.
“It indicated to them that I was respected in the business,” she said. “I don’t usually enter contests, but my business development manager (BDM) encouraged me and I did.”
The contest was judged on the creativity of agents who sent in a picture of themselves with the 2012 TAG in the image. Orf set up her picture as a kind of bedtime story with her two children in pajamas and titled it Sweet Dreams of Royal Caribbean (although the kids are jumping with excitement and clearly not sleepy).
Nash also said her BDM’s encouragement led her to enter. Her winning picture was taken at a nearby rock-climbing wall, and she found the shoot with Royal thrilling for many reasons.
“I got up and then the director said, ‘Emily can you push back from the wall?’ I did, and then he said, ‘Can you hang with just one hand?’” said Nash. “It was amazing to do that in front of so many people; I’m not an expert rock-wall climber!”
Both agents enjoyed meeting other travel agents from around North America and discussing ways to set themselves apart in today’s business climate.
The TAG itself is an extremely rich resource, more than 300 pages long and bound.
“Every year, this is one of the highest-ranking tools in our agent surveys,” said Freed said. “It’s really all an agent needs, an insider look at Royal, with every ship analyzed, menus, information on which ships were recently refurbished, everything.”
Freed said that travel agents have stated a preference for hard copy, feeling that when they meet clients face to face they don’t want to move aside to go into a computer.
“There’s also an element of the guide that is online, and the consumer can access it, too,” Freed added.
During a celebratory party at Freed’s house, the 15 winners also had the opportunity to meet with Royal executives.
“They really do care about the relationship with agents and that means a lot to me,” said Orf.