A Very Good Year for Cruise Holidays
By Mimi Kmet
November 01, 2012 11:45 PM
It’s been a very good year for Cruise Holidays International. Heading into its annual conference, which is taking place this week aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas, the franchisor announced a highly successful social media campaign and tremendous growth in terms of the number of franchise owners it boasts worldwide, but more on that later.
First, franchise owners who arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before the Allure departed on the weeklong Caribbean cruise had the opportunity to learn more about Cruise Holidays and the business of selling travel in general, with four workshops at the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale-Plantation Hotel. These workshops are freebees; Cruise Holidays offers them at no additional charge to early arrivals every year that it hosts its annual conference on a cruise ship. I was not able to attend the core conference, but I was able to sit in on the pre-cruise workshops. Why wouldn’t franchise owners want to take advantage of free opportunities to enhance their businesses?
At the workshops, sales and marketing expert Mike Marchev presented two topics, “Putting the Wind Back in Your Sales” and “Presenting Yourself with Impact.” Participants also received technology training in the workshop “Webtree Pro Tips,” presented by representatives of Primero Systems. This tutorial offered tips on using the various editing functions on franchise owners’ Cruise Holidays websites. (Each franchise owner has his or her own personalized version of www.cruiseholidays.com.) Cruise Holidays’ Sharon Johnson also presented “Benchmarking and Budgeting,” which offered sales comparisons among franchise owners, as well as tips on how to create a budget and stick to it.
Now, about that social media campaign: We’re talking 80,000 people who “liked” franchise owners’ websites, 30,000 of whom provided their email addresses. At the end of a designated two-month period, just before the annual conference, Cruise Holidays held a random drawing of those who “liked” the sites and awarded the winner with a Royal Caribbean cruise.
But that’s not the half of it. The real benefit for participating franchise owners was that they ended up with 30,000 leads, or 30,000 people they can follow up with to help them plan their next cruise vacations. In fact, over the course of the two-month sweepstakes, the average franchise owner’s Facebook page grew by more than 60 percent in terms of the number of “likes” on his or her Facebook page. One franchise owner increased the number of his “likes” from about 100 to nearly 2,000. The campaign was so successful that Cruise Holidays plans to “make social media marketing a centerpiece of our marketing, going forward,” Mark Schiffner, the company’s vice president and COO, told me. More sweepstakes are planned for 2013.
Not only is Cruise Holidays growing its base of prospects for franchise owners, but it is also has grown to include more than 350 franchise owners and affiliated locations, thanks in large part to recently forged partnerships with master franchisors in the U.K., Australia and Quebec, Canada, which had representatives at the conference. Among the other 2012 enhancements Cruise Holidays touted at the conference was the recent launch of a client engagement program, which provides customized emails to clients from franchise owners, based on the clients’ itineraries, sailing dates and other trip information; the Platinum Program, which it launched this past spring, for franchise owners who want to boost their luxury travel business; TripPro, a new domestic air online booking tool; and CU Online, a learning management system announced at last year’s convention that now has about 110 online lessons and more than 415 active learners.
Interested in becoming a Cruise Holidays franchise owner and reaping all of these benefits? Check out the company’s recently launched franchise recruitment Facebook page at. The page provides information about franchising and how to start a business selling cruises.
Mimi Kmet is executive editor covering travel agents and the Western U.S.