FCCA Travel and Cruise Magazine – 4th Quarter 2021

Keys to Success: Connection, Communication & Training

Of the many lessons learned through this pandemic, one is how much people continue to value connection. So many of us through the pandemic have been focused on connection and collaboration, and it will be so important for this to continue as we all get back to business. As itineraries are planned, shore excursions evolve, and cruise destinations develop in response to the needs of today and the projections for the future, connection and collaboration will be critical. At the FCCA Conference in Panama in October, collaboration, communication, and training were the focus of conversations. We learned the outlook for the future of cruise is strong and we were told to get ready for a roller coaster ride as ships continue to be built and demand continues to increase.

The key to successful connection and collaboration is communication. As collaborations increase, the need for better communication becomes more important. We need to ensure our communication plans and strategies are solid, and include all key audiences, from our cruise line clients and stakeholder partners to our frontline teams that are engaging with our guests in our destination, and the community at large. And we need to make sure that we consider training. As we talk of the need to be fluid and flexible to change, as we prepare to get back to business with teams who may be new or have been out of work for months, and as we strive to ensure we are delivering excellent service to our cruise line clients and their guests, we need to have training strategies and plans in place.

At Aquila, we continue to work with destinations to build training strategies and plans for long-term success. Our approach includes a needs assessment to help guide the development of a training strategy, and we collaborate with each destination to develop a customized and sustainable strategy that works. We’ve not stopped training through the pandemic – many destinations have used the time to invest in their people, and over the last eighteen months, Aquila has virtually trained over 10,000 people throughout the Caribbean and Central America. And we’ve learned so much from working with the amazing people in these destinations.

We’ve learned that we can create moments of connection while training virtually, and we can help teams connect. We’ve seen the importance of collaboration among the cruise partners in a destination, and of communication with all the people that affect the cruise experience in a port of call. We’ve learned that with innovation and creativity, we can reimagine shore excursions and create new experiences that provide our guests with that valuable connection to the people and places they visit. And we’ve seen that when we tap into our special heritage and culture, offering experiences that are authentic to who we are, and deliver excellent service, we can create magical connections for our guests.

As we start to travel to destinations again, we are seeing that training strategies are now including a blend of virtual and in person training. Cruise destinations and their stakeholder partners have experienced the value of training both virtually and in person and are finding their budgets can achieve more with a blend of both. This is a trend in training that we may see continue, and with Aquila’s approach to collaborating with destinations and building a training strategy that works, this can ensure your plan is right for you.

The official training partner of the FCCA since 2010, Aquila’s training is complemented by the fact that we are also a tour operator and destination marketer for the cruise industry in our very own “Living Lab” in the port of Saint John, Canada. We do what we teach, and our training programs continue to evolve and respond to the changing needs of this dynamic industry. We’re looking forward to a bright future for our cruise destinations, and we’re honoured to continue to collaborate on training strategies to support that.

Beth Kelly Hatt is the President of Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence, the FCCA’s official training partner. Contact Beth for more information at Beth@CruiseExcellence.com