Cruise Sales Innovator Wayne Heller Mourned
Wayne Heller, who with his wife Judy transformed travel agency cruise sales by establishing Cruises Only in 1984, died on June 11 at age 58.
The couple had been inducted into the Cruise Lines International Association’s Hall of Fame on April 23. Graveside funeral services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. June 16 at Palm Cemetery, 1005 N. New York Ave. in Winter Park, Fla. An informal celebration of his life will follow.
“I am deeply saddened to learn one of the great innovators in our industry, Wayne Heller, passed away yesterday,” Vicki Freed, senior vice president at Royal Caribbean International, wrote on Facebook. “He was a man of remarkable talent and just as big a heart. I grew to know him and his wife Judy very well over the years, and just a few weeks ago I had the honor of presenting them both with the CLIA Hall of Fame Innovator Award, recognizing their lifelong contributions to the cruise industry. My heart goes out to Judy and all of Wayne’s loved ones.”
By 1997, Cruises Only was North America’s largest cruise agency, and the Hellers, along with four other entities, co-founded Travel Services International (TSI). The Hellers were responsible for establishing procedures and policies enabling the TSI cruise division to maximize profits, reduce unit costs and expand markets. By 2000, the division had purchased more than 20 companies and generated sales of more than $500 million, making TSI the largest seller of cruises in the world, CLIA said in a biography when it announced their induction into the Hall of Fame.
Since leaving TSI in 2000, the Hellers have concentrated on business ventures, including creating Origin Cruise Group. In 2011, they restored the 130 year-old Riverview Hotel & Spa complex in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
“Through it all, the Hellers have always shown remarkable humility. They never forget the people that helped them get there, and to this day continue to seek new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others,” Freed said in her Hall of Fame presentation. “Although Wayne and Judy sold the shares in their agency long ago, and haven’t pursued a cruise-related venture in a few years, the influence they left in their wake is undeniable.”
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