Cruise Planners is Back with In-Person Training and Events

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New travel advisors attend intensive STAR University after joining the nation’s largest travel advisor franchise - the first in-person training session since the pandemic

Travel Agent Training

Travel Agent Training, Cruise Planners STAR University

"Nothing compares to the in-person, immersive experience we create at STAR U,” said Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners. “STAR U is more than a just a week of intensive, in-person training, it’s a sense of comradery among the new franchise owners as they join the Cruise Planners family.”

This week, Cruise Planners, kicked off its first in-person Sales Training to Accelerate Results University, or STAR University, in more than a year with enhanced safety protocols, such as smaller classes, social distancing and mask wearing.

“We are so excited to welcome our newest franchise owners to this in-person training event,” said Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. “At the onset of the pandemic, we quickly adjusted to a virtual training experience to help our new franchisees get their business started right away, and that was well received, but nothing compares to the in-person, immersive experience we create at STAR U.”

Making Up for Lost Time
Cruise Planners continued to sell franchises during the pandemic, bringing in nearly 200 new franchisees in 2020. However, since March 2020, in-person events have been halted creating a backlog of new franchise owners eager to attend STAR University in person. To support this, there are three STAR University events planned monthly to allow all new franchisees the opportunity to attend.

“We pivoted to present and train virtually as well as ramp up our personal coaching program, and that has definitely been a benefit for our new travel advisors,” Fee said. “Our travel advisors have been celebrating our training programs and are excited for a hybrid of both virtual and in-person training.”

Many courses were available both live and on-demand in the company’s eLearning platform, Cruisitude Academy. An example of new digital efforts created a connection with the new travel advisors is through “STAR Talk,” an open-forum web-based video call hosted with a Cruise Planners executive with representatives from marketing, technology, business development, operations, sales and more as guest speakers, so agents didn’t skip a beat.

“Many of our new virtual training experiences are here to stay, but the pandemic gave us an opportunity to re-strategize our onboarding and training process to optimize a new advisor’s journey with Cruise Planners,” Fee said. “STAR U is more than a just a week of intensive, in-person training, it’s a sense of comradery among the new franchise owners as they join the Cruise Planners family.”

The "New-ish" Normal
Coming back to in-person training and events will require modern-day healthy protocols including temperature checks, social distancing, face masks, frequent room sanitation, limited capacity, rotation schedule, dividers and more. For example, the preferred partner trade show will have tiered timeslots and abide by a rotation schedule to accommodate the group.

One thing notably missing from STAR University will be the signature cruise ship inspections that travel advisors have come to love, since those are not an option right now. Replacing it will be a fun, interactive workshop role playing real-life travel advisor scenarios.

More In-Person Training On the Horizon
In July, Cruise Planners will be relaunching a series of in-person events including Bootcamps in Las Vegas and Orlando focused on marketing and sales, social media and new technology tools and hosted by Cruise Planners’ Senior Vice President of Strategic Development, Scott Koepf. A few months later, in October, Cruise Planners will be showing up in force in Mexico for its annual convention.

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Caitlin Gardner
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