Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

At Cruise Planners’ annual conference this month, franchisees learned that this year the majority of them are growing their profits more than the average travel agency.



Of the 1,000-plus Cruise Planners franchisees, 69% had year-over-year growth so far in 2015, compared with 54% who responded to a similar ASTA survey.

But the stunning statistic was the increase in revenue for the Cruise Planners franchisees that grew. According to Cruise Planners CEO Michelle Fee, the average revenue growth was 63%.

That’s a pretty healthy average, and suggests that a number of franchisees were above the average, probably doubling their 2014 revenue.

Fee said the key to that kind of growth is not only selling more, but maximizing the amount of time spent selling commissionable items, and getting higher commission sales.

Based on their overall sales mix, a larger percentage of total sales at Cruise Planners franchises this year has been commissionable when compared to sales in 2014.

Exclusive offers from preferred suppliers, travel insurance and land-based vacation options are some of the items in the mix leading to greater commissions at Cruise Planners.

Last year, the number of agencies in Cruise Planners’ Millionaire Club (those selling $1 million or more) rose 12%. Fee won’t say exactly how many that is. But this year, the club is on track to grow 32%.

Fee also said that agents who use the tools that Cruise Planners comes up with tend to do better than those who don’t. For example, the network’s eBuilder marketing tool lets agents send email cards to clients. Of the agents that expect no sales growth this year, 79% did not use that tool.

Conversely, Smart Select is a database tool that uses client demographics to make marketing more targeted. Agents that used Smart Select typically had higher sales, Fee said.

While the franchise model might not be for everyone, Cruise Planners and other franchise companies do offer a remarkable toolbox of technology that agents would have trouble creating themselves.

“Let us handle the high tech, and you handle the high touch,” said Fee. That seems like a pretty good formula to me.

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