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TravelAge West’s Excellence in Leadership Award honors an individual who, in the course of his or her career in travel and tourism, has consistently demonstrated leadership and insight, effected change or innovation and made extraordinary contributions to both organizations and the industry at large. For 2014, TravelAge West is thrilled to honor Vicki Freed — an undisputed champion of the travel agent community, who serves as senior vice president of sales, trade support and service for Royal Caribbean International.
“Vicki is smart, honest and passionate about helping travel agents sell cruise vacations and, as a result, earn more money,” said Brad Anderson, co-president of Avoya Travel. “Over the last few decades, the travel agents who have listened to her words of wisdom, like me, have been able to thrive — not just survive. An amazing leader isn’t just someone who leads with authority. She is someone who people respect and have an unconscious desire to follow.”
Freed oversees Royal Caribbean International’s sales force — the largest sales team in the cruise industry. She also manages Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s trade support and service division, including reservations, group sales and customer service.
Under Freed’s sales leadership, Royal Caribbean International has been the recipient of the Travel Weekly Reader’s Choice Award for Best Sales & Service and the TravelAge West WAVE Award for Best Travel Agent Support for six years in a row. This recognition confirms her unwavering support of the travel agent community.
“I feel so much pride and gratitude to be a part of an industry for which excellence is not the exception but the rule,” said Freed during her acceptance speech at the WAVE Awards Gala. “It’s the passion and commitment of the travel professionals in this room and across my career that have continually inspired me to work beside them and for them, as they work to craft some of the most important memories a person can ever have.”
Freed joined Royal Caribbean International after 29 years with Carnival Cruise Lines, where she spent her last 15 years as senior vice president of sales and marketing. From 1998 to 2000, Freed also served as the first and only female chairman of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), the marketing and travel agent training arm of the North American cruise industry.
But Freed’s service isn’t limited to the travel industry. She currently serves on the board of the Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options and is a trustee of the United Way of Miami-Dade County. Previously, Freed served on the Florida Commission on Tourism, the board of directors for the South Florida Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the board of directors for the Association for Travel Marketing Executives.
Freed earned a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Colorado. She also holds a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) designation.
“The highlight of my career has always been and continues to be serving the travel professional,” said Freed. “Travel enhances all of our lives. From creating one-of-a-kind experiences to imprinting our clients’ lives with memories they will treasure for a lifetime, nothing brings me greater joy — and I think I speak for all of us when I say there isn’t a better industry to be working in.”