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Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, rolled out the bling at this year’s annual conference, and I’m not just talking about the blinged out green converse sneakers shimmering from stage as Michelle Fee, CEO and founder, and Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner shared the plethora of new offerings with the crowd of travel advisors. Some o these announcements weren’t just mere updates, but new features to help advisors retain their client’s loyalty, many of which brought cheers from the crowd as well as a few, “finally! Thank goodness,” And quite a few “yesssss!”

If you’re wondering what the hype is all about, here’s the breakdown for you. Ten of these new offerings are currently available for advisors to start using and implementing, and four others will be added in early 2020.

Cruise Planners
Advisors ready for CP Convention 2019. (Photo courtesy of Cruise Planners.)

Ready to Use Now

Franchise Snapshot:The upgraded version now measures key business metrics including sales growth year over year, average customer spend, top destinations, insurance sales analysis and more.

Top 20 Client Reports: This new report, which launched just this week, helps advisors easily see who their top 20 clients are based on either the total sales amount, or the number of trips taken. This new tool will help you to easily see which clients you should be focusing on more.

Buckets in myTrips: Cruise Planners Home Office can send out direct mailings to clients based on their bucket list; agents can choose to opt out or in of this feature. Advisors can also target these clients and reach out to them themselves.

ShoreTrips Enhancements: You can now choose shore excursion for your clients’ cruise sheet, choose shore excursion for your clients my trips accounts, and shore trips will be available in buckets.

Group Enhancements: This new tool helps you to better communicate and manage your group bookings.  Advisors can manage in CP Maxx all the information for one group from one place. You can alsonow send group e-mails to anyone booked or registered to the group. In addition, you can also send out group proposals, which will then allow the client to approve or decline the proposal and give you feedback; this can be used for both cruise and land bookings.

Sensitive Data Storage: Cruise Planners partnered with third party company, that offers secure vault for credit card protection. You can now opt in for sensitive storage to use for clients credit cards. You can now securely store full credit card numbers for clients through this system. When you want to access the full number, you just click the magnifying glass and the full number shows up.

Client Lead Forms: This was created to help you save time when creating client leads by helping you use your time in closing the sale versus time entering information into an excel form. This new form will capture prospect information at travel shows or any other event. The tool will also send out customized digital marketing campaigns to these new prospects. Client capture forms don’t only have to be used at events, you can also add them to any link or webpage you send clients.

Uplift Vacation Financing: In order to help you stay competitive, and help you earn additional commission with increased bookings through upgrades, Cruise Planners is now offering travel financing options through Uplift. This vacation financing program, works like a loan program. The client pays a monthly payment, which then you use to pay suppliers. This option might help entice clients to upgrade their vacation by showing them easily manageable monthly payments. Bu using Uplift, clients won’t max out their credit cards, and this offer is of no cost for agent to use this program.

Vacation Wizard: This new recommendation engine was created to help you find the right supplier for your client’s vacation needs. Advisors just have to enter some key information such s travel type, destination, and travel style and a list of suppliers will show up including all relevant supplier information such as commission rates, contact information, special offers, and more.

Advisors can customize their favorite vendors by putting a green heart out he ones you favor so they can be easily accessible for you to use again in the future. This wizard will live in the partner hub of CP Maxx.

CP Mobile App:The advisor-facing mobile app for Cruise Planners was updated and now includes a cruise search engine, a search through My Trips, Yelp integration, a chat feature, online payment options, and offer your clients insurance options or an insurance wavier. In addition, advisors will also have access to weekly travel deals from the app. And, the app can be designed to match your website’s theme.

Coming in 2020

Cruise planners
The breakdown of the new Marketing Plan. (Photo credit: Michelle Marie Arean.)

Marketing Plans: This is a new offering added to the existing CP Marketing Hub, which will allow advisors to enter their marketing initiatives and goals to create their own personal annual marketing plan. The plan will be able to combine the advisor’s plan with marketing campaigns sent on the advisor’s behalf by the Cruise Planners Home Office Team such as scheduled mail outs, as well as track all of the advisor’s marketing efforts including cruise events, chamber meetings, mailings, Fcebook ads, special events, and more. In addition, advisors can also schedule short term marketing plans throughout the year.

This new tool will also allow advisors to send co-op proposals to suppliers. We heard from cruise line execs on stage later that afternoon, that if an advisors goes to their BDM with a thought out marketing plan, it is more likely for the BDM to partner with them and help pay for an event. The new marketing plan will also connect bookings to the marketing efforts to help advisors analyze their initiatives so you can know which marketing efforts are performing better and giving you a better ROI.

Also new under the updated marketing plan is Enhanced Smart Select, which will allow advisors to highly target clients for marketing initiatives. You will now be able to send e0mails and direct mailers using geo-targets, past travel preferences, and repeat customers or new-to-brand clients.

Cruise Planners Rewards: Advisors will be better equipped at keeping their client’s loyalty with this incentive. Clients and prospects will be able to earn points for all of their travel purchases through the advisor that they can then use for up to 60 percent savings in hundreds of quality-brand merchandise ranging from luggage to home goods to handbags, electronics, wine, gift cards, and more. Products will range from brands including Tumi, Coach, Kate spade, Kitchen Aide, Monte Blanc, Lacoste, and many more. According to Fee and Garcia, this is the only franchise or host agency offering a program like this to advisors and their clients.

Where2Next: This new tool will collect information from your clients on destinations that they want to visit in one to three years. This works like a bucket list, where clients can let their advisor know the places within their reach that they want to travel to next.Every time there’s an offer to these places, you can easily find that customer and target them.

The Cruise Planners Home Office will also send direct mailings to these clients based on the bucket list, and advisor can choose to opt out or in for this offering. Advisors can also target these clients and reach out to them themselves.

Live Planner: This new feature will allow advisors to collaborate with their clients in real time to curate the best vacation option. “It’s a way to virtually plan a trip as if you were on a phone; it works a Google doc type of collaborative live planner,” said Garcia. “It helps you interview the client virtually,” she added. With this new tool, advisors can collaborate online with their clients or provide clients with the planner and receive comments back. Advisors can also create multiple live planner trips and save to “my trips.”

Fee says, “There are customers that want to be part of the planning. This allows you to give your customers a way to be part of the planning process. But when it comes to booking it and putting it all in place it falls on the agent.”

Cruise planners
Be your client’s super hero. (Photo credit: Michelle Marie Arean)

Dates to Remember

CP Live— Every Wednesday at 1 p.m.  This 30-minute live show ishosted by the Home Office, and features special guest speakers, marketing and sales updates, and trivia.

2020 Bootcamp—Chicago: Feb. 9-11, Orlando: Feb. 16-18, Atlantic City: March 8-10, Dallas: March 29-31, Las Vegas: April 8-10

Luxury and River Cruise Forum—Aug. 5-9 at Hyatt Ziva/Zilara Cap Cana

Land Symposium—Sept 12-17 at El Dorado Royale in Riviera Maya. This event is split in two sections; you can attend both or just one: All-Inclusive: Sept 12-15 and Escorted Tours and Destinations: Sept. 15-17.

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