Michelle Fee, CEO & Co-founder of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative
Michelle Fee is CEO of the nation's largest home-based travel franchiseorganization, Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. Shestarted her career as a full-service travel agent in the 90s and her love oftravel and passion for entrepreneurship led her to co-found Cruise Planners asa franchise organization. Under her leadership, Cruise Planners has empoweredfranchise owners for success through access to award-winning marketingprograms, hands-on training and evolving technology, allowing them to operateefficient and competitive travel businesses in a fast-changing industry.
- What is Cruise Planners franchiseopportunity all about?
- Cruise Planners is a home-basedbusiness model and it’s attractive for people who have a passion fortravel. Franchise owners don’t need to have travel industry experience tobe a successful since we truly are a business in a box. In fact, we teachnew franchise owners how to be full-service travel advisors and ouraward-winning marketing and cutting-edge technology tools to make it easyfor them to efficiently compete in the marketplace.
- Cruise Planners offerstwo mobile apps—one for consumers and one for travel advisors, allowingagents to seamlessly run their business from the palm of their hand. Withjust a few clicks on a smart device, agents are able to book a trip, sendan invoice and pull up client information. Clients can accesspersonalized travel information, book shore excursions, purchaseinsurance and more all from their secure mobile app.
- Our Home Office Team of nearly100 people is focused on each franchise owner’s success since we succeedonly when they do.
- Who is your idealcandidate for a Cruise Planners franchise?
- Someone with a passionfor travel and someone who is looking to be in control of their ownfinancial future. We have all types of franchise owners; some arepart-time while others make travel sales their full-time career.
- What type of training andsupport do you offer Cruise Planners franchisees?
- We train our franchiseowners to become travel experts with Cruise Planners’ award-winningtraining program. Franchise ownership begins with a 6-day training event leadby industry experts as well as the Home Office Team focused aroundindustry trends and Cruise Planners proprietary tools. Agents becomefamiliar with CruisePlanners University, an online vide-based platform, as well as attendin-person training sessions. We provide franchise owners with the besttraining tools and opportunities for all learning styles.
- What are some of theadvantages in being a Cruise Planners franchisee?
- There are so many perkswhen investing in a Cruise Planners franchise since it truly is abusiness in a box and we provide all the tools to be successful. Also,Cruise Planners pays the highest commissions offered in the travel industry– PERIOD. Because of Cruise Planners’ large footprint and industryprowess, Cruise Planners Travel Agents have access to the highestavailable commissions and bonus commissions. Plus, traveling is a perk ofbeing in the travel industry. As a Cruise Planner, agents have access toinaugural cruises, seminars at sea and familiarization trips. Last year,Cruise Planners hosted more than 20 FAM trips throughout Europe, Mexicoand the Caribbean on land and at sea.
- Are you a member of anyAssociations?
- Yes, Cruise Planners isrepresented on many executive and advisory boards including:
i. American Express Travel
ii. Royal Caribbean International
iii. Norwegian Cruise Line
iv. Celebrity Cruises
v. Cruise Lines International Association, Inc®(CLIA)
vi. Carnival Cruise Line
vii. MSC Cruises
ix. Boardof Trustees for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)
x. InternationalGay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Foundation Board Member
xi. TravelBound Advisory Board
xii. ExecutiveForum for Carnival Cruise Line
xiii.Norwegian Cruise Line Partnership 2.0 AdvisoryBoard
xiv. TravelImpressions Advisory Board
xv. SpecialNeeds Group (SNG) Advisory Board
xvi. DEPARTURESMagazine Advisory Board
xvii.Regent Seven Seas Council
xviii.The Travel Corporation - American Express RepNetwork Advisory Board
- We also have an affiliationwith American Express Travel, so our agents get instant credibility andaccess to exclusive deals – we truly set them up for success and areconstantly improving and innovating to be the best in the travel industry.
- Tell us a little about theTravel Market?
- People are traveling and thecruise industry is growing! More and more travelers are relying on traveladvisors when planning their vacations. Cruise Planners travel agents arefull-service travel providers and we provide the tools our agents need sothey can focus on selling.
- How successful is yourcompany today and what are your future growth plans?
- We have been a topproducer for all major cruise lines, tour companies and destinationpartners. As such, we have been named the besthome-based franchise to own by Entrepreneur magazine for more than 13years and we are now located in all 50 states.
- Cruise Planners hasachieved top producer status with every major cruise line. Accoladesinclude numerous Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly for the past sevenyears, American Express Travel Representative Excellence Award for 11consecutive years (2004-2014), American Express Agency of the Year(2010), Royal Caribbean International Chairman’s Award (2015), RoyalCaribbean International President’s Award for Overall Achievement (2012and 2014), Royal Caribbean International Home-Based Partner of the Year(2007-2013), Norwegian Cruise Line Franchise Agency of the Year (2011-2015),Celebrity Cruises Field Sales Account of the Year (2015), CelebrityCruises Home-Based Account of the Year (2013-2014), Celebrity CruisesSoutheast Region Travel Agent Partner of the Year (2010), AmericanExpress Vacations Best of the Best Globe Award (2008-2015), Globus Familyof Brands Premier Agency Partner (2009-2014), Platinum Member of the 500Club for Sales Excellence (2014), Platinum Circle Member with VikingRiver Cruises (2009-2012), Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection TopProducer (2008-2014) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises Top Producer. CruisePlanners is one of the Top 50 franchises for Veterans according to GImagazine, the Top Franchise Brand for Veterans according to FranchiseBusiness Review, has been named one of the Top 25 franchises forAfrican-Americans by Black Enterprise magazine and is a member of theInternational Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.
- What are your franchiseessaying about the business?
- They love us! We are thetop franchise to own, according to an independent survey by FranchiseBusiness Review of more than 1,000 franchisees.
- Here are a few testimonialsfrom our franchise owners:
i. “CruisePlanners has provided me the tools, training and support to help grow myfranchise into more than I ever thought it would be.” – Randy Hobday
ii. “Thedestination/supplier training, technology, and agent support are second tonone.” – Lorraine Fann
iii. “Iwas looking for something where there was a solid infrastructure and marketingtools along with accessible support. I also hoped to make some new friendsalong the way within the franchise system. Cruise Planners has lived up to thatfrom Day One.” – Teresa Downs
- What advice do you havefor someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
- Talk with currentfranchise owners and due your due diligence to make sure the travelindustry is the right fit. Fully understand the franchise agreement andresearch to understand the industry to make sure you’ll enjoy what you dofor a living. Being in the travel industry is a fun and rewarding job.
- In your opinion, why doyou think that Cruise Planners would be a great opportunity for someone?
- Our Cruisitude® - it’s anoutlook on life and positive attitude and love of travel. We helpfranchisees turn a passion for travel into a passion for entrepreneurship.The Cruise Planners family is beaming with Cruisitude and we’re alwaysexcited and ready to share our energy with new travel advisors.
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