What makes a top-selling agent? There are undeniably a number of factors that contribute, but one that many of Cruise Planners' agents have in common is that they take advantage of the tools, programs and education the company offers, according to founder and CEO Michelle Fee.
"What I love the most is that I look at my top five or 10 agents, they all do business differently, but there is a similar comparison," she said. "What that is, is they pretty much use every system and tool that we provide them to be successful. They've taken the time. They show up to all of our conventions, and they're very connected to us."
Some of those top-selling agents focus on luxury, Fee said. Some focus on family, others on large groups and some even sell mostly land.
Michael Consoli, based in Roswell, Ga., is one of those top Cruise Planners agents.
Consoli got started in the industry after he took a Disney Cruise in 2001 and "fell in love with cruising," he said. He owned a successful computer networking company but bought a Cruise Planners franchise and started selling travel on the side. That didn't last too long. In 2005, he sold the networking company to his business partner, and he has been selling travel full time ever since.
Today, Consoli sells individual and group travel. His specialties are river, luxury and family cruises, and he's good at it — he's won a number of awards, including Cruise Planners' No. 1 luxury agent and No. 1 river cruise agent, both for four years in a row.
Consoli said his success comes largely from networking and learning about the products he sells in person.
"I constantly ask for referrals, which has really helped me build my business. I do a lot of events to bring in new business and I support my local schools and charities to keep my name out there," he said. "I am constantly learning while traveling, since it's my firsthand experience that really allows me to help my clients make an educated choice on their vacations."
But, to Fee's point, Consoli said using Cruise Planners' tools are key to the way he runs his business. Those tools — like Hot Lists, one of his favorites, which use his client database to offer deals for birthdays or anniversaries — help keep Consoli's workload lighter.
He advised other agents to consider the tools offered by networks like franchises. He also encouraged other agents to experience what they're selling.
"The best way to build your confidence and the confidence of your clients," he said, "is to experience the different products out there."