Cruise Planners: Land vacations are now 30% of business

By Kate Rice
DuomoCathedral-Florence-Italy“Cruise” may be part of Cruise Planners name, but the franchise group is rapidly expanding the amount of land vacations it books, according to Vicky Garcia, chief operating officer and co-owner.

Land vacations (including tours and all-inclusive resorts) now account for about 30% of its business, up from roughly 5% a decade ago, said Garcia.

“We’ve been doing it all along but not with a major focus,” said Garcia. “But in the last four years, we have ramped up in that area to make sure we’re not missing a piece of the pie.”

Land has been a more challenging segment than cruise, technologically speaking. Cruise technology is relative uniform, and that worked in Cruise Planners’ favor when it built eRez, its electronic reservations system, according to Garcia.

Agents can book 12 cruise lines in eRez, which is mobile-enabled.

Tours are not yet bookable in eRez, but agents can book over the phone or through supplier websites and then enter booking details into eRez.

The Cruise Planners MyTrips tool, password-protected portals where clients can see upcoming and past bookings, works for tours as well as cruises.

And Cruise Planners has introduced Tour Sheets, similar to Cruise Sheets, customizable e-brochures that agents can email to clients with details about trips. The e-brochures are designed to enable collaborative planning between agents and their clients.

Cruise Planners has a more than 100 tour partners, including Insight, Globus, American Express Vacations, Brendan Vacations and Classic Vacations.

One new vendor is TicketMonster, which enables agents to sell tickets to sporting events, concerts, theater and music festivals. Agents can book these for their clients or their clients can book them on Cruise Planners agencies’ consumer-facing websites.

Cruise will always make up the bulk of Cruise Planners’ business, said Garcia, but that is not necessarily true for each franchise. Some franchises, particularly new entrants, sell more land than cruise.

She said that tour bookings have been increasing, but so have cruise bookings.

“This is not eating into our cruise business at all, our pie is just getting bigger,” Garcia said.
 
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