The nominees represent 'the best and brightest individuals within our industry and the winners this year are some of the most talented and dedicated members of this group,' CLIA president and CEO Cindy D'Aoust said.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Freed, SVP sales and trade support & service, Royal Caribbean International, and to Sandy Cleary, founder and CEO, CruCon Cruise Outlet.
Freed oversees Royal Caribbean’s sales force, the largest in the cruise industry. She also manages the line’s trade support and service division, which includes reservations, group sales and customer service, as well as the consumer outreach division. Freed joined Royal Caribbean after 29 years with Carnival Cruise Line, where her last 15 years were as SVP sales and marketing. She also served as the first female CLIA chairman, from 1998 to 2000.
CruCon Cruise Outlet's annual sales top $135m
Having started CruCon Cruise Outlet 25 years ago in her mother’s basement, Cleary built the company into one of the largest cruise distributors, with more than $135m in annual sales volume. Known for her leadership and innovative marketing, Cleary has won a number of awards and honors for achievements in the cruise industry and for her philanthropic efforts.
Cruise Planners singled out for innovation
The Travel Agency Innovator Award went to Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. Founded by three travel agents, this home-based franchise network now counts more than 1,800 franchise owners. Co-founder and CEO Michelle Fee and her team have created innovative tools and programs to help agents stand out in a busy marketplace. Suppliers have told Cruise Planners its technology is better than theirs, and the company's marketing team continually pushes boundaries to help agents flourish.
Dream Vacations agent is Elite Cruise Counselor of the year
The Elite Cruise Counselor of the Year was awarded to Gary E. Smith of TravelPerks Dream Vacations, who has worked in the travel business for more than 15 years and achieved CLIA's highest accreditation, Elite Cruise Counselor Scholar. One of Dream Vacations’ top-producing agents, Smith is known for his strong relationship with cruise supplies and his involvement with the development and growth of cruising.
The Hall of Fame inductees were honored at a dinner during the CLIA Cruise360 conference in Fort Lauderdale this week.