Qa Interview With Cruise Planners American Express Dan Hicks Director Franchise Development
Dan discusses the booming travel industry in general and Cruise Planners in specific in the below interview.
According to US Travel.org, as air travel gets more complicated, time consuming and expensive, cruises are becoming more and more popular. They are now one of the top vacation choices among Americans of all ages. This makes getting into the industry very appealing and Cruise Planners prides itself not as a vacation planner, but an experience maker!
Tell us a little about the travel industry and Cruise Planners.
Cruise Planners/American Express is the nation's largest home-based travel franchise. We offer our owners the ability to be full service travel agents receiving the highest commissions in the industry. Only 18% of the U.S. population has cruised so there's an un-tapped market with cruising. Our agents not only offer cruise travel but land tours, rental cars, hotel stays, shore excursions, travel insurance so there's a great opportunity to earn additional income.
How has the travel industry changed through the years and with all that is going on in the economy?
During the last 25 years, the cruise industry has continued to rise. Even through economic downturns, cruising has grown double digits each and every year.
Why is the cruise niche in travel particularly interesting in today's world?
With more new ships coming on the waters every day, consumers will find that cruising is the most economical way to travel. With many cruise lines, a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise is almost 40% less expensive than a weekend at Disney World.
When considering a travel franchise, what should the franchisee watch out for?
The toughest thing is competing with the internet for pricing. BUT, customers return time and time again to our owners because we provide true vacation experiences. If there are ever problems in the reservation process, you can't call the internet. Also, during the vacation experience our owners can provide ship board credits, free shore excursions, bottle of wine or other perks to their clients. Again, you can get that from the internet.
Why do you think Cruise Planners/American Express stands out in the industry?
We are the most awarded cruise travel franchise in the nation. Leading the pack we're #1 in category by Entrepreneur magazine 8 years in a row, American Express 2010 Home Based Franchise Partner of the Year, Royal Caribbean International 2010 Home Based Partner of the Year, Norwegian Cruise Line 2010 Home Based Partner of the Year just to name a few.
What sets Cruise Planners/American Express apart from other Travel or Cruise Franchises?
Among many, our 8 year partnership with American Express offers additional revenue streams that our competitors can't offer.
What makes an ideal candidate for a Travel Franchisee?
Anyone with a great personality and the desire to be the best can do well as a Cruise Planner's franchisee. Some of our top producers have been everything from an accountant, auto mechanic, stay at home moms to a former CIA operative. Involvement with the local Chambers of Commerce, networking groups, etc is important as well, so individuals with a strong sense of community can help build the business tremendously.
What's one of the best things about a Cruise Planners/American Express Franchise?
We are home-based which keeps the overhead down. Another thing is our franchisees are the greatest!
Our marketing and technology are hands down, the best in the industry. Add our in depth on-line training and our 6 day hands on training here in Ft. Lauderdale and you get the best education possible. Our training never stops with over 20 monthly webinars, 200 hours of on-demand training and constant support from our Business Development Department.
What advice would you give someone interested in buying a Travel Franchise?
If you're tired of working for someone else and you want to be your own boss, buy a franchise. With our business, you never have a bad day. Helping people plan their dream vacations is always a great feeling to have! How much experience in this industry should a franchisee candidate have should they consider buying a franchise in your industry? None required.