Cruise Planners kicked off its annual convention with the announcement of nine new initiatives, including a “first-of-its-kind” presentation tool the franchise company says will be a game-changer.
The two-part conference kicked off Friday, November 11 at the Intercontinental in Miami but Travel Market Report got a sneak peek at the new initiatives at a virtual press conference earlier in the week.
“It’s been a stellar year of growth for Cruise Planners,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners, who shared that the company is ending 2022 98% to its 2019 departures, which was its best year ever. Purchases for the total are actually 10% over 2019 levels.
“One of the categories that has blown us away and we’re continuing to blow away in terms of the numbers is the luxury travel segment,” said Scott Koepf, senior vice president of strategic development. “In 2022 over 2019, we were 28% up in luxury travel and that includes the record-setting pace on world cruises. We have over 10 million dollars in world cruises on the books during this year. That’s an 89% increase over 2019.”
“We’re thrilled to share all the innovations we’ve been working on and to celebrate the milestones and hard work of our advisors and home office team,” Fee added.
Patent-Pending Live Planner
The innovation the Cruise Planners executive team is most excited about is a patent-pending live travel planning and presentation tool called LivePlanner.
The tool, which was inspired by Zoom, gives advisors the ability to do on-the-spot travel planning without having to share their screens with clients. Instead, the advisor pushes the content they’ve already curated (or curate live) to the client. This enables the advisor to do continuous searches “behind the scenes” while clients look at the content that’s been pushed to them.
According to Brian Shultz, CIO of Cruiser Planners, they anticipate three business applications for the tool.
First is live planning, maybe with a new client where the advisor is doing real-time research and then presenting pieces of that research. Perhaps, a video describing life onboard a ship or a 360-degree panorama of a beach villa.
In the second, the client has told the advisor ahead of time what they’re interested in and the advisor is now presenting the research they’ve done, which could include multiple options for the client to choose from. In this scenario, the advisor can have everything cued up and ready to go in the order they want to present the information. Should the client have questions or want to make tweaks, the advisor can do real-time research while the client is continuing to look at what the advisor has already presented.
“We think that there’s also going to be a fair amount of people for scenario number two,” Shultz said.
In the third business case, the advisor is walking through step-by-step a vacation plan that is already booked. This can be opportunity for the advisor to offer recommendations or even do last-minute upsells.
Neither the advisor nor the client needs any special software to use LivePlanner.
In conjunction with LivePlanner, Cruise Planners is working with supplier partners to create already-curated collections of content featuring specific brands, ships, resorts or tours that advisors can use without having to do all the research themselves first.
Navitrip Hotel Booking Engine
The new Find a Hotel tool, powered by Navitrip, connects advisors to a variety of hotel consolidators representing more than 400,000 properties worldwide. It features a user-friendly interface, which clearly shows the client’s savings percentage over the retail rate, along with the commission amount available to the advisor. More importantly the tools gives Cruise Planners advisors the ability to adjust their commission, thereby giving their clients a deeper discount by using a simple toggle bar. Alternatively, they can add a mark-up if they want to increase their commission.
The Amenity Track is a new tool that has been added to the company’s CP Maxx CRM and booking tool to give advisors the ability to keep track of all of the perks, amenities and gifts that their client receive for booking with them – including who is paying for it. Advisors can also choose to show the amenities on their customers’ invoices and their MyTrips account. They can also run reports to see which amenities still need to be applied to their clients’ upcoming vacations. The tool is designed to save advisors time by eliminating the need for spreadsheets.
Trip Summary 2.0
Not everything Cruise Planners introduced to their franchise owners is completely new. Trip Summary underwent a major overhaul to add features such as the ability to add images, day-by-day itinerary details, and special notes and recommendations. Furthermore, it was integrated with CP Maxx so that the summaries can be easily created with a few clicks of a button.
The Trip Summary functionality has also be integrated into LivePlanner so that advisors can review the day-to-day summary with them on LivePlanner and easily provide content (photos, videos, etc,) to help the client visualize the experience.
Cruise Planners advisors are great at sharing advice and recommendations with each other, Fee said. But there’s never been a central place to store such information. Most of it, Shultz said winds up on Facebook, which isn’t easy to search when you’re trying to find a specific recommendation you vaguely remember from months ago.
With Destination Hub, another new addition to CP Maxx, advisors can enter their destination-specific recommendations for others to easily find. Powered by Fodors, advisors have to ability to add personal recommendations on hotels, restaurants, tours and activities for destination around the world.
Branded Landing Pages with Destination Pages, Supplier Pages, and More
These pages, which advisors can add to their own websites, will feature branded video content, latest offers, updates and news, and more.