Perez Hits The Ground Running For Carnival
To say that Adolfo Perez hit the ground running for Carnival Cruise Line on the day he assumed his new role as Vice President of Sales & Trade Marketing would be somewhat misleading.
Perez actually began during the interview process.
“I definitely had an idea of what I wanted to do,” Perez told TravelPulse.com in a recent interview. “When I was applying for the job I put together my vision for the first 90 days. There were three things I really wanted to do and a big one was to begin the process of engaging with the travel agent community.”
Perez has done that, and more, since stepping into his new position back in June. In fact, it was an easy transition – he already knows the company up and down, inside and out, from his previous 33 years with Carnival.
“Adolfo is a seasoned travel professional with a true passion for cruising and an appreciation for the valuable and important role that travel agents play in the cruise-selling process,” Carnival president Christine Duffy said in a statement when Perez was hired. “We considered both internal and external candidates for this role and felt that Adolfo’s years of experience in the industry and his commitment to the agency community made him the best fit for the job. I am confident that his outstanding leadership skills will serve the trade and our team of sales professionals in the field very well.”
And talk about hitting the ground running – and flying and driving. Perez said that for the better part of the summer he was out of Carnival’s base in Miami and was all over the country visiting travel agents and agencies big and small. His goal?
“I was actually kind of surprised at how much progress had been made the prior two years with our ‘Carnival Conversations’ with agents,” he said. “When I went out there it was constructive feedback. I was pleased to have that kind of reception. I wanted to rebuild the trust. They feel we are a trusted partner and we were there to support their business. I am the travel agents’ advocate at Carnival.”
After garnering input, Perez came out of the summer with a new plan – changing the commission structure for agents.
Carnival in September announced it would reduce the number of sailed cabins required for each commission tier, which creates significantly greater earnings opportunities for travel agents. The sailed cabin requirement to reach each tier will be reduced, on average, by 32 percent for the 11-15 percent commission tiers. The program starts with all new bookings from Jan. 1, 2016 on.
So, instead of needed to sell 400 cabins a year to get to the 15 percent commission level, Carnival lowered that down to 275 cabins sold.
“I would say that one of the first things I heard was our commission structure was not competitive,” Perez said. “I got support right from the very top to change this and now there’s been a big change. I mean, we’re talking huge swings in the positive perception of Carnival.”
Two days after announcing that initiative for travel agents, Perez and his team unveiled a new trade support platform called “Onboard with You” which will house the line’s numerous travel partner initiatives and tools. In conjunction with the launch, the company also introduced its first-ever Facebook page for travel agents and a dedicated section on GoCCL.com. The new Facebook page is hosted by Perez himself.
“Social media is obviously extremely important. At the brand level we have a robust Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram. We’re not in every single thing but we’re in most,” he said. “But with this new agent-centric page, I can engage with travel agents remotely. I’ve always said that social media is not a place to sell people; it’s a place to engage people and start a conversation.”
Don’t be surprised to see more effort by Carnival to engage its travel agents.
“We’re going to continue to look for ways to be a better partner,” he said. “My team understands agents better than anybody.”
More by Rich Thomaselli
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