Membership of the Leading Cruise Agents of the UK has almost trebled in 12 months as the group become more effective in the way it represents specialist cruise agents.
The LCA was formed in 1993, when it was known as the Guild of Professional Cruise Agents. It changed its name in 2001 and last year had 41 members.
It now has more than 120, with German specialist retailer and tour operator Dertour and Get Cruising of Tunbridge Wells, the latest to join in the cruise agents category.
In addition, Yachts of Seabourn and Louis Cruise Lines have joined as associate members, taking the number of cruiseline members to 15, while eWaterways has signed up to a new affiliate membership programme.
The affiliate scheme was launched in February to give businesses with an interest in the cruise industry access to LCA members. The port of Harwich is planning to become an affiliate member.
LCA chairperson Clare Dudley said the group is now more business focused. It is opening up morning sessions at its quarterly meetings to associate and affiliate members to allow more open communication - these were previously for agents only - and introducing half-hour business meetings in the afternoon, where agents can have private talks with associate and affiliate members.
Dudley said: "Going forward, plans are in progress to add workshops to our future meetings that will be run by key industry figures and provide members with helpful tips on how to get more out of their businesses."
She added: "Our main focus now is to ensure associate and affiliate members provide our cruise agent members with exclusive offers for their customers. This gives them a real sales strength against their competitors and shows the true value of joining the LCA."
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