Today, Cruise Holidays is recounting not one but three ways in which North America’s oldest cruise-specialty franchisor is finding new ways to add new energy to the cruise industry as well as continue its own growth. Those methods include the introduction of a new retail model, the recruitment of certain existing cruise agencies and the continued emphasis on facilitating same store sales growth.

New Retail Model

While traditional storefronts will continue to be the hallmark of Cruise Holidays, there are now two new Cruise Holidays retail locations that do not operate out of a traditional storefront scenario but are centered in an office environment. The first is a retail space in London, Ontario. The second is owned by Bob Shaffer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shaffer is a former Cruise Holidays home-based or “virtual office” owner who found his three-year old business had grown so much he needed a new way to continue expanding.

The new retail model has four cornerstones:

- Takes on the traditional storefront fee model, which includes a monthly fee but eliminates royalty payments back to Cruise Holidays;

- Encourages the recruitment of independent contractors;

- Features lower overhead – for example, must operate out of an office that can accommodate clients but set office hours are not required (eliminating the need for a more costly storefront upfront).

- Takes advantage of Cruise Holidays’ On Your Behalf marketing program which includes direct mail, e-mail marketing and a complete Web site strategy.

“What began as simply a retirement hobby business for me has evolved into so much more,” said Shaffer. “My business has grown and transformed into a full-fledged travel agency, with Cruise Holidays providing me the tools to keep costs low and maximizing my cash flow through a variety of targeted marketing programs,” added Shaffer.

The new retail model is open to existing Cruise Holidays virtual office franchise owners as well as interested outside parties.

Cruise Holidays Welcomes Existing Agencies

Earlier this month, Cruise Travel Outlet, a successful 18-year old cruise agency based in Salem, New Hampshire, joined Cruise Holidays in a newly designed “affiliate” capacity. Cruise Travel Outlet will keep its brand name but will be recognized on marketing pieces and in other programs as an affiliate of Cruise Holidays.

Bill Walsh, owner of Cruise Travel Outlet, said technology was one of the major reasons he joined Cruise Holidays. “As an independent business owner, I can partner with Cruise Holidays to take advantage of technology I may not have had access to on my own,” said Walsh. “They are very open to listening and collaborating with their franchise owners,” added Walsh.

Same Store Sales Growth

With franchise owners across North America, there has been varied response and recovery to economic downturns on both sides of the border, with the recovery generally being quicker in Canada. In both cases, Cruise Holidays provided solutions to challenges facing the owners and it has resulted in some dramatically positive results.

For example, Dianne and Peter Neubauer, franchise owners of Cruise Holidays of Lawrence Park (Ontario) cited some examples. When the brunt of the economic downturn was hitting Canada, Cruise Holidays announced a reduced royalty program. “But even after doing this, they did not take away any programs or support, in fact they increased them. That money we saved on royalty allowed us to put more money toward marketing. So we never gave up on direct mail. We continued with it because we had cash flow freed to build the business and set the stage when clients were ready to come back. We were able to stick to our plan,” said Dianne Neubauer. “Everything kept up, and in fact, it’s gotten stronger – the Cruise Holidays hotel program, our new Compass magazine…everything Cruise Holidays has done has gotten better when others are seemingly becoming weaker. Our success is top of mind for the head office at Cruise Holidays. They truly care about us and everything they do is done to further our business and increase our success,” said Dianne.

In the meantime, Cruise Holidays of Kansas City has for years been the network’s top producing store. Owner Mimi Comfort says her store partners with Cruise Holidays to embrace change and uses Cruise Holidays technology to grow. The headquarters staff also helps them train new staff – and with 25 agents and seven outside agents – that training is paramount. The store was able to once again increase its sales year over year despite the economic odds and, “We’re very excited about what’s going on. We feel like next year is going to be even better than this year,” said Comfort.