Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Carnival's business plan challenge offers advisors cash prizes, 'Shark Tank' insight

'If you're not putting together a plan for the year and thinking about your plans over the next X number of years, how do you measure your success?' Adolfo Perez said
Carnival Cruise Line is rolling out a new event to help travel advisors craft overall business plans that boost their success and income. Plus, they'll have the chance to win cash to invest in their business as they see fit.

The new 'Your Winning Plan' program and competition brings renowned experts in small business and entrepreneurship to a series of daylong training events around the US. In each region, the advisor with the best plan will win $2,500 and an all-expenses-paid trip to a grand finale in Houston with 'Shark Tank's' Daymond John announcing the winner and awarding an additional $5,000 prize.

According to Carnival's Adolfo Perez, SVP global sales and trade marketing, a business plan is fundamental to success. But he isn't sure all travel advisors have one.

Especially for new and independent advisors

Particularly, he's focused on new advisors, those working independently or with a host agency, part-time or full-time, or even as a franchise or a small mom and pop brick and mortar agency.

'If you're not putting together a plan for the year and thinking about your plans over the next X number of years, how do you measure your success?' Perez said.

In building a plan, advisors need to think about factors like how much they want to grow their business, if they plan to advertise and how much to spend, and how much commission they aim to earn. Creating a plan helps advisors think through what they need to do to meet their goals.

And once they have a plan, it's important to regularly assess where they stand — the more frequently the better, Perez said — so they can adjust accordingly. Perhaps that means stepping up advertising or hiring more people to handle the leads coming in.

Small Business Administration experts

At the 'Your Winning Plan' daylong event, experts from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and SBA's resource partner, the America's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, will provide guidance about their services including mentoring and how to apply for small business loans.

Carnival and SBA are crafting a simple business plan template that advisors can begin at the event. They'll also get special training in social media and Carnival booking tools.

Starting June 23

The series kicks off in June and spans the summer with events in San Jose, California and Detroit (June 23), Las Vegas (July 7), Nashville (July 14), Denver (July 19), Richmond, Virginia (July 28) and a virtual event Aug. 5. The Houston grand finale is set for Sept. 27.

Carnival expects 100 to 120 advisors at each event, with capacity for 5,000 at the virtual event and 600 for the grand finale. Perez will host the first one in San Jose June 23, and members of his sales leadership team — Mike Julius, VP field sales - North America; Kirk Neal, regional VP; Justin French, regional VP Canada and Northern US — will host the others along with a business development manager from each area.

Advisors will then have the opportunity to submit their business plan for judging by Carnival.  

Attendees and the semi-finalists selected for the grand finale will get to hear Daymond John, entrepreneur, author and star of ABC’s Emmy Award-winning and top-rated business competition series 'Shark Tank,' share his expertise. He'll also present the grand prize. (Semi-finalists won't have to pitch their plans; the winner will be chosen in advance by Carnival.) Carnival President Christine Duffy, who began her career as a travel advisor, will be on hand, too.

Robust agenda

Each area event, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., will include groups and sales training, training, social media training, lunch, guest speakers from the SBA, SBDC, American Society of Travel advisors and Cruise Lines International Association and coaching to create a business plan.

'It's a very robust agenda,' Perez said. 'It's going to be be very complete program that I think agents will appreciate because it will help them overall in their business.'

Carnival isn't setting sales targets for 'Your Winning Business Plan.' Perez explained the initiative is to help advisors craft an overall business plan — and likely they're selling travel beyond Carnival cruises.

'Hopefully this will generate more business for us as they start implementing their plans. But, at the end of the day, this is about their business and not necessarily focused on growing the Carnival business,' Perez said, 'although I'd love them all to grow their Carnival business.

'It's designed to be something beneficial to them and hopefully we'll reap some of those benefits.'