Posted on: January 10, 2011

Cruise Planners/American Express, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, announced the end of another successful year in today’s competitive travel market by winning notable industry awards and launching innovative programs and marketing tools for hundreds of its home-based franchise owners.

Cruise Planners/American Express started the year with a big win when CEO and co-founder, Michelle Fee, was named one of the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds” in sales and marketing by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Fee was also named one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Business Women” by the South Florida Business Journal, a weekly regional publication, and recognized as a Stevie Awards “Top Women in Business” finalist. Cruise Planners received awards from cruise line partners such as “Agency of the Year” from American Express, “Southeast Region Travel Agent Partner of the Year” from Celebrity Cruises, four coveted Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly, recognition as one of the top 50 franchise companies for minorities by World Franchise Network and ranked No. 1 in the Travel Agency Franchise category by Entrepreneur magazine.

“The awards we received this year reflect the hard work and dedication of our home-based agents and the home office team,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners/American Express. “Together we have conquered and prevailed over the struggles experienced by the travel industry. I am proud of our accomplishments in 2010 and look forward to what we have planned for this upcoming year.”

Last year proved fundamental for Cruise Planners/American Express as the company made significant investments and developed programming and marketing tools capable of increasing sales and the client base for franchise owners. Two significant programs include eREZSM, a web-based customer relations management program allowing agents to organize client information from virtually anywhere – even their smartphones and iPads, and Communication Coach™, a virtual training tool teaching agents how to build their interpersonal skills when speaking to clients on the phone. Agents benefited from home office training webinars as well as industry expert-led seminars introduced to Cruise Planners University (CPU) sophomore track. Closing out the year with a sold-out convention in Fort Lauderdale and aboard the Celebrity Eclipse, Cruise Planners launched its CPU senior track and announced a 100 percent increase in agent accreditation through the online university.

“We want our agents accredited in today’s competitive market. They are at the top of their game and we want to keep them there. The tools developed by home office allow our agents to be top sellers in the industry and knowledgeable cruise travel experts,” said Fee. “Consumers will always find the time and money to travel, which is why we developed additional tools and programs to keep our agents well-informed, capable of providing clients the right information about cruising, and acting as a resource that consumers just cannot find when booking online.”

Notable Awards and Recognitions:

  • American Express 2010 Travel Agency of the Year
  • American Express Vacations 2010 “Best of the Best” Globe Award
  • Celebrity Cruises 2010 Regional Partner of the Year
  • Gold Magellan Award – Cruise Planners University
  • Gold Magellan Award – New Agent Training Program
  • Silver Magellan Award – Cruisidude family-themed, integrated marketing campaign
  • Silver Magellan Award – CP Cares, community outreach program
  • 2010 Military Friendly Franchise, G.I. Jobs magazine
  • One of the 50 Top Franchises for Minorities in 2010, World Franchising Network
  • Ranked No. 1 Travel Agency Franchise by Entrepreneur magazine; ranked No. 51 overall
  • Globus Family of Brands Premier Agency Partner Award
  • Sandals Resorts’ S.T.A.R. Awards, Best of the Best Winner, USA – Central / South East

Notable Awards for Michelle Fee, Cruise Planners’ CEO and co-founder

  • “Top 25 Most Influential Business Women”, South Florida Business Journal  
  • “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds” in sales and marketing, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
  • Stevie Awards “Top Women in Business” Finalist

About Cruise Planners/American Express

Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Services Representative, is the largest home-based travel agent network in the cruise industry with more than 700 franchise owners across the country that independently book cruises and associated travel. Named No.1 Cruise Tour / Travel Agency by Entrepreneur magazine for the past eight years, Cruise Planners positions franchise owners for success by providing them with innovating marketing, booking and lead-generating tools as well as professional development and hands-on training with the industry’s top executives.

Headquartered in Coral Springs, Fla., Cruise Planners has achieved top producer status with every major cruise line. Accolades include Platinum Circle Member by Viking River Cruises; Royal Caribbean International Home-based Partner of the Year (2007 – 2009); Regent Seven Seas Cruises Top Producer (2009); Globus Family of Brands Premier Agency Partner (2010); Agency of the Year from American Express (2010); Globe Award from American Express Vacations (2010); Travel Agent Partner of the Year from Celebrity Cruises; American Express Travel Representative Excellence Awards (2004 – 2009) and winner of four coveted Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly in 2010. For more information, please visit www.cruiseplannersfranchise.com.

Media Contact:
Holly Zawyer / Deseraé E. del Campo
Cheryl Andrews Marketing
P: 305-444-4033
holly@cam-pr.com / deserae@cam-pr.com