FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. â€” Michelle Fee, Co-Founder and CEO of Cruise Planners/American Express, the nationâ€™s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, has been named one of the â€œtop 25 most extraordinary mindsâ€ in sales and marketing for 2009 by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Fee will be honored Feb.1 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.
â€œIt is truly an honor to be recognized by such a well-respected organization as the HSMAI,â€ said Fee. â€œI have always loved working in the travel business and to be recognized as an innovator because of that passion and dedication is a humbling experience.â€
Cruise Planners recently celebrated their 15th year anniversary. What began as a small business with only five students in the first training class has grown into the nationâ€™s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry. Recently Cruise Planners ranked No. 62 in Entrepreneurâ€™s 31st Annual Franchise 500 Issue and for the seventh year in a row, the company is ranked No. 1 in the cruise travel franchise category.
Fee is also responsible for the launch of the companyâ€™s two innovative, turn-key programs: CPpod, a Print-on-Demand portal with a 1:1 Marketing element that matches the clients to psycho/demographic data and truly â€˜talks directlyâ€™ to the customer with a targeted message, and a Website program that allows the franchisees to completely customize their own sites with special group departures. The Website program also features a proprietary registration tool for the participants to sign up to the group departures, as well as create custom landing pages â€“ all with an easy editor tool for the least technical user to understand.
Fee sits on the advisory boards of Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises and the Cruise Line International Association, as well as the Executive Forum for Carnival Cruise Lines. In 2003, she was named one of Travel Agent Magazineâ€™s Most Powerful Women in Travel, and in 2006, was named Travel Agent of the Year by Travel Trade Magazine.