FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – Home-based travel agencies CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. – which are part of World Travel Holdings, the world’s largest cruise agency and award-winning leisure travel company, experienced double-digit cruise and land sales growth in 2016. This was the result of monumental investments – in a new brand, developing cutting-edge technology, implementing creative marketing and offering enhanced training opportunities, all of which inspired the network to become engaged with each other and the headquarters team to ultimately attain their common goal of driving sales.
“With only two percent of the population having taken a cruise, it is our mission to attract new cruisers and gain market share in the resort vacation business,” said Debbie Fiorino, senior vice president of CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. “We know the industry is evolving, which is why we act for today and build for tomorrow by investing in supporting the ever-changing needs of our network. We are truly trailblazers in the industry and have revolutionized the home-based travel agent business model by recognizing that regardless of which of the three brands our agents affiliate with, they all sell dream vacations, as do our suppliers.”
The launch of experiential franchise brand, Dream Vacations, was a tremendous accomplishment and signifies a shift in the cruise agency industry ideology. Since launching in April 2016, more than 60 percent of the franchise system operates under this brand and more than 90 percent of new franchisees join the network as Dream Vacations. As a result of this new brand, Dream Vacations franchise owners are experiencing on average a 14 percent growth in their cruise business, while their land and resort business has seen a 30 percent growth, for a total sales increase of 17 percent.
Ongoing multimillion dollar investments have resulted in an Information Technology department that is at the forefront of innovation. Most notably, Cruise Fare Watch has monitored millions of dollars in price reductions and has transformed agents into vacation heroes by enabling them to upgrade their customers at no additional cost. The IT team started working closely with a committee of agents to launch new tools and resources, such as Cruise Fare Watch, that both improve and enhance the efficiencies of the home-based travel agent, making it possible for them to work from anywhere in the world on any device and browser. In addition to new technologies, there were more than 70 support releases which enhanced all facets of existing technology tools so they can be usable on all browsers and devices.
2016 saw an all-time high participation rate with more than 82 percent of the network utilizing the marketing programs offered to them, this is an increase of 22 percent year over year. The corporate headquarters funded more than $650,000 in promotions such as “National Umbrella Drink Day,” a Food Truck Takeover, transportation credit and more, and has plans to increase this amount to more than $1 million in 2017. “This high adoption rate is an indicator that our agents who are engaged and using the resources we provide are achieving their growth goals, which once again reinforces why they are the most profitable in the industry,” said Rosemarie Reed, vice president of sales and marketing.
Cruises Inc., CruiseOne and Dream Vacations offers its network of travel agents the premier training platform in the industry with a foundation based on engagement and collaboration. Beyond the traditional award-winning learning modules found in The Learning Center, agents accredit their success and competitive advantage to the multitude of opportunities they have to personally meet with their corporate support team, travel industry leaders and share their best practices with each other, whether at Regional Trainings or National Conference. In 2016, Regional Trainings experienced record attendance of more than 30 percent of the entire network participating, while National Conference also saw record engagement with more than half of the agents from all three brands aboard the Carnival Vista in December.
Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance noted, “The numbers speak for themselves — this high involvement and participation rate correlates with the impressive individual agency growth across the network. We believe there is intrinsic value in having our agents fully understand the vacation experience they are selling to their customers, that is why we make significant investments each year in facilitating private ship tours and Familiarization Trips, as well hosting National Conference aboard a weeklong cruise every year.”
Giving back is a keystone of World Travel Holdings and its brands and for the past six years Make-A-Wish® has been the company’s signature charity. In 2016, agents, franchise owners and the corporate Headquarters team donated nearly $115,000, or the equivalent of granting nearly 12 wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Fundraising activities included Zumba@Sea – Dance for Wishes, Pie in the Face, exclusive access to Skyride and the silent auction during the annual National Conference, as well as corporate teambuilding events such as the annual Gift Basket Fundraiser. The team also had the opportunity to host a send-off party for a South Florida kid who wished to go to the Florida theme parks.
While the network continues to grow by 10 percent year over year across all brands, recruiting military veterans has become the cornerstone of recruitment efforts. In 2016, CruiseOne/Dream Vacations celebrated the fifth anniversary of its flagship program “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” and since 2012 has given away 25 complimentary franchises to military veterans valued at more than $317,000. “Franchising is one of the most popular career choices for military veterans when they transition out of the service and we are honored to have received national recognition as a top franchise for military veterans across all industries, including a number one ranking three years in a row from Military Times,” said Tim Courtney, vice president of franchise and network development and ambassador of veteran affairs.
In 2016, CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. continued to receive prestigious accolades beyond the travel and franchise industries, confirming its dominance as a supporter of small businesses and as a top company in the Southeast. For the fifth and third consecutive years respectively, CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. were recognized as a Top Private Company by South Florida Business Journal and Florida Trend, as well as a Top Workplace by Workplace Dynamics and Sun Sentinel.
“2016 was a year of amazing accomplishments and I am so proud of my team at Headquarters for all they do to support the more than 1,600 home-based travel agents who are the most passionate and profitable in the industry,” added Fiorino. “2017 is going to be a milestone year with all three of our brands celebrating significant anniversaries – Cruises Inc. 35 years, CruiseOne 25 years and Dream Vacations celebrating its first successful year in the market. I just know it will be another year for the record books.”