Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, Announced Record Sales Growth, Enhanced Technology and Generational Sales Tips at Annual Convention

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The company’s sold-out event focused on how travel advisors can best market and sell to all generations using the franchise’s cutting-edge marketing and technology tools

Cruise Planners always likes to do it differently and the 2015 cruise line executive panel includes top leaders playing a game show while showing their Cruise Planners green to an audience of more than 600 travel advisors. (L to R): Cruise Planners CEO an

Cruise Planners always likes to do it differently and the 2015 cruise line executive panel includes top leaders playing a game show while showing their Cruise Planners green to an audience of more tha

“We believe the future of travel is at the intersection of technology and marketing,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners. “We are seeing our travel agents embrace technology mo matter their generation."

Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the travel industry, hosted more than 600 travel franchise owners to its sold-out annual convention at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. This year’s convention had a “ReGENerate” theme, designed to underscore how agents can more effectively attract new clients while retaining their existing customers – no matter which generation they belong to.

“We believe the future of travel is at the intersection of technology and marketing,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. “We are seeing our travel agents embrace technology mo matter their generation – they are using tools to help manage their business and our mobile apps help clients experience travel.”

Cruise Planners takes the best practices in marketing and uses technology to help enhance those efforts and that winning combination has made them a technology leader. Since Cruise Planners creates all of its technology in house, the company has invested heavily in growing the Home Office Team and creating new tools to help agents grow their business, helping consumers have a more seamless travel experience and also assisting the Home Office Team become stronger coaches through business development strategies. This year, Cruise Planners announced the following tools at Convention:

  • Mobile Technology: Cruise Planners Mobile has been updated with two mobile apps – one for consumers and one for travel advisors who can now run their business from the palm of their hand. With a few clicks on a smart device, CP agents can now book a trip, send an invoice and pull up client information – even without an Internet connection. And their clients can access personalized travel information, book shore excursions, purchase insurance and more all from their secure mobile app.
  • Triggered Email Campaigns: One of the most well-received tools Cruise Planners has ever introduced is the Triggered Email Campaign, which truly is a marketing campaign that uses dynamic technology data to automatically push out a series of emails throughout the lifecycle of a consumer’s booking. This year, the company added a “Book Onboard” triggered email that uses the built-in logic based on the customer’s purchase history. More than 97 percent of Cruise Planners agents are using the tool and already 300,000 emails have been triggered through the campaign.
  • 360-degree Marketing Campaigns: Cruise Planners constantly evolves its marketing programs and uses both traditional media combined with social media, email and online marketing to create 360-degree approaches to reach target audiences. Some recent enhancements include Smart Select, which allows travel advisors to automatically identify clients within their database based on predetermined data for a specific marketing campaign that will maximize efficiency and make the best use of each advisor’s marketing dollars based on consumer purchase habits. This enhancement has positively impacted sales by double-digits.
  • Enhanced Completely Packaged Vacations: Cruise Planners knows the sweet spot is to offer something unique and offers customized vacation bundles so their agents are able to sell unique packages to help them stand out in the marketplace. This year, they introduced dynamic packaging through its relationship with preferred partners such as ARC Marketplace – allowing agents to create customized itineraries with additional tours, excursions and more.
  • Trade Show Kit: Cruise Planners noticed a trend – that more travel agents are attending trade and consumer shows, so they rolled out the new CP branded Trade Show Kit. The kit features items to help make each agent look larger than life at various shows with branded items such as signs, a table cloth, personalized pens, sticky notes, bags, balloons and more. Being part of the Cruise Planners franchise allows the Home Office Team to design and order in bulk so agents can reap the benefits while focusing on selling.

“We have invested a lot into our in-house team, and it has continued to position Cruise Planners as a technology and marketing powerhouse for our agents benefit,” said Vicky Garcia COO and co-owner. “Our tools are created and designed specifically based on the challenges and opportunities faced by travel agents.”

The investment is paying off; Cruise Planners travel agents are seeing higher customer retention, increased sales and higher average per day spend, which results in more profitable travel advisors.

“We want each customer to feel more connected to their Cruise Planners travel advisor,” Garcia said. “The tools we are creating and our approach is doing just that and positively impacting the bottom line for each of our franchise owners.”

Overall, Cruise Planners’ sales continue to evolve highlighting that the franchise network has seen a boost in both land-based vacation sales and cruise sales – offering more opportunities for travel agents to be profitable.

  • More Commission: Based on their overall sales mix, a larger percentage of total sales were commissionable year over year.
  • YOY Purchases Growth: Cruise Planners franchisees that grew their business, grew by an average of 63 percent.
  • The Future is Bright: The volume of purchases, which is an indicator of future travel, is up 37 percent, year over year.
  • Exclusive Sales Work: When Cruise Planners was running exclusive supplier offers and promotions, revenues increased by more than 52 percent, showing how being a franchise owner with Cruise Planners can positively impact the bottom lines for travel advisors.

During the week-long event, there was also a cruise line executive panel and fun-filled game show with seven major cruise line executives including Norwegian Cruise Line president, Andy Stuart and Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy. Then, the travel agent network sailed on Norwegian’s newest cruise ship, the Norwegian Escape.

“We like to do things a bit differently and everything we do out of our Home Office is for our agents and inspired to make them successful,” Fee said. “Our primary focus always has been and will continue to be the success of our franchise owners.”

About Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative
Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, is the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the travel industry. Cruise Planners operates a network of more than 1,000 franchise owners who independently book amazing vacation and travel experiences for their clients. The Florida-based Home Office team positions franchise owners for success by providing innovative marketing, booking and lead-generating tools, as well as professional development and hands-on training with the industry’s top executives. The company continues to be lauded and has been named the No.1 Cruise Tour / Travel Agency by Entrepreneur for 12 consecutive years. Cruise Planners was recently featured in Entrepreneur as one of the top 30 franchise innovators in technology and named to the Fast 50 by the South Florida Business Journal.

Headquartered in Coral Springs, Fla. with more than 20 years of experience, Cruise Planners has achieved top producer status with every major cruise line. Accolades include numerous Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly for the past six years, American Express Travel Representative Excellence Award for 11 consecutive years (2004 – 2014), Silver Stevie Award for Management Team of the Year (2014), American Express Agency of the Year (2010), Royal Caribbean International President’s Award for Overall Achievement (2012 and 2014), Royal Caribbean International Home-Based Partner of the Year (2007 – 2013), Norwegian Cruise Line Franchise Agency of the Year (2011-2014), Celebrity Cruises Home-Based Account of the Year (2013-2014) and Southeast Region Travel Agent Partner of the Year (2010), American Express Vacations Best of the Best Globe Award (2008 – 2014), Globus Family of Brands Premier Agency Partner (2009- 2014), Platinum Member of the 500 Club for Sales Excellence (2014), Platinum Circle Member with Viking River Cruises (2009-2012), Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection Top Producer (2008-2014) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises Top Producer. Cruise Planners is one of the Top 50 franchises for Veterans according to GI magazine, the Top Franchise Brand for Veterans according to Franchise Business Review, has been named one of the Top 25 franchises for African-Americans by Black Enterprise magazine and is a member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. For more information, visit

Stay in Touch: Media can stay up-to-date with Cruise Planners by visiting our media room, following us on Twitter @Cruisitude or on Facebook. For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers should locate a travel advisor near them. For those interested in becoming a franchise owner, please visit our franchise site.

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Caitlin Murphy
Cruise Planners
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