At Cruise Planners, Tech + Marketing = Success

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Cruise Planners Co-Owners and Executives (left to right): Dan Hicks; Vicky Garcia; Tom Kruszewski; Michelle Fee; Brian Shultz; and Theresa Scalzitti.
Cruise Planners co-Owners and executives (left to right): Dan Hicks; Vicky Garcia; Tom Kruszewski; Michelle Fee; Brian Shultz; and Theresa Scalzitti.

This is the 21st century, folks, and a solid technology and marketing base is what will drive your business. In fact, Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, says it perfectly when she proclaims that, “The future of travel is at the intersection of marketing and technology.” Speaking to that, at its recent 2016 “I am CP”-themed convention, which took place in Miami, Cruise Planners launched the most technology updates ever. The audience, made up of 600 Cruise Planners franchise owners, went wild when one after another technology and tool update was announced by the Cruise Planners team, including Cruise Planners co-owners and executives Vicky Garcia; Tom Kruszewski; Michelle Fee; and Brian Shultz. It was an energized “sea of green,” as Fee proclaimed at the start of the Cruise Planners Executive Welcome gathering. Updates included new travel agent booking tools, the enhancement of Cruise Planners’ automatic and strategic programs, and a deeper focus on both land and luxury travel.

Some of the tools live right now include CP View, which allows Cruise Planners franchise owners to match the right sailings and itineraries with a certain client by sorting through customer data, sales trends and customer behavior. So, for example, there’s an age breakdown, an average price per cabin category, leading to suggested clients. For experienced franchise owners it’s a great way to pinpoint a certain client, and for those new to the Cruise Planners family, it offers a perspective on pricing. There’s also the launch of the tour-specific triggered e-mail, which got a huge round of applause, as it reaches out to clients throughout the booking cycle, including sending a “thank you for booking” e-mail; a “final payment reminder” e-mail; and a “10-day countdown” e-mail, among other triggered emails. Incidentally, 52 tour operators are part of the system. As Fee stated during the session, “We do all the heavy lifting, and we continue to push business back to you.” The Trip Summary tool, too, is proving to be popular as it offers a quick summary of the client’s agenda, it’s mobile-friendly, and it works with any reservation the agent has made.

Additionally, via the eCONNECT booking system, whose partners already include AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Cunard, Royal Caribbean International, Crystal Cruises, and Costa Cruises, among many more, franchise owners will now be able to access Viking Ocean and Viking River Cruises.

The first quarter of 2017 will see the roll out of CP Insights, which will provide insight into clients and target the right clients with the right marketing. It focuses on age demographics and salaries, then breaks it down even more: Say you are looking for a young-aged client who earns $100,000 to $200,000, that is broken down into several slots such as “Charge-It Champs: Young Suburban Families” and “Charge It Champs: Young Suburban Singles and Couples,” as well as “Confident Futures: Young City Families.” Or perhaps you are targeting middle income families that are in the 35-year-old age range, then those range from “Credit City: Young Families” to “Getting Ahead: Young City Singles.” In other words, it really gets granular and gets rid of a lot of the guesswork; there are numbers assigned to each and every category. Also launching soon is the Chat via CP Mobile—a must in today’s business world—a CP Social PRO Upgrade—20 social media channels on one platform—and a marketing program that really focuses on Cruise Planners’ luxury offerings. “But wait, there’s more” was heard throughout the session, and there is, including Car/Hotel eCONNECT, coming in Q2 2017; and eREZ 3.0, coming in Q4 2017.

And in case you aren’t part of the Cruise Planners family, and might be on the fence about joining, I leave you with this stat: In 2016, the U.S. travel revenue growth is expected to be 11.7 percent, for Cruise Planners, it’s 24.1 percent.

For more information on Cruise Planners, visit cruiseplanners.com or cruiseplanners.com/travel-agents/become-a-travel-agent.