Cruise Planners/American Express, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, today reported an 80 percent increase in agent accreditation with supplier partners since the company launched Cruise Planners University (CPU) in November 2009.

“Our franchise owners are committed to becoming the most reputable agents in the industry, which is clearly evident by the positive growth we’ve seen in our CPU partners’ accreditations within the past eight months,” said Terri Burke, senior vice president of relationship marketing at Cruise Planners. “CPU offers agents access to education in a way that has never been done before, and its popularity demonstrates they understand that higher learning equals higher earning. By including our partners, such as CLIA and Royal Caribbean, in this unique accreditation program, we’re seeing increases which have far exceeded our original proformas.”

Currently, there are more than 700 Cruise Planners agents actively enrolled in the online learning tool that uniquely integrates select cruise line and tour company universities with Cruise Planners’ core training modules. Agents who complete the 100-plus hours of course work in addition to the required vendor training will graduate as a Certified Cruise Planners Expert (CCPE), the top travel agent accreditation in the industry.

“Cruise lines are looking at travel agent bookings in a more complex way than ever before, and we understand that it’s not just about putting heads in beds,” continued Burke. “We want to fill cruise ships and tour departures with the right customer, ensuring they are paired with the right brands in order to bring them back to us again and again. To do this, we have given our agents the best resources available, both internally and externally, through CPU.”

With courses ranging from general travel industry knowledge to sales and marketing tips and social media training, CPU offers an extensive curriculum that is rapidly growing. Cruise Planners has more than 200 training modules coming to CPU and will soon offer courses that teach agents how to charter a ship as well as the ins and outs of filing the proper taxes as a travel business owner. Additionally, CPU will soon launch an online store allowing agents the opportunity to earn “CPU Bucks” to purchase logo items and travel gear.

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