CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., the nation’s largest cruise retail network as part of World Travel Holdings (WTH), today announced the results of a major recruitment overhaul launched in 2009.
“While 2009 was a challenging year economically, the fallout from layoffs in other industries presented an interesting opportunity for us to tap into new, emerging markets for potentially successful travel agents,” said Dwain Wall, Senior Vice President and General Manager of CruiseOne & Cruises Inc. “We’ve spent the past quarter assessing last year’s efforts. It’s safe to say at this point that from a recruitment standpoint, 2009 was the most outstanding year in our 27-year history.”
A New Approach in 2009
In early 2009, CruiseOne & Cruises Inc. revamped their overall recruitment strategy. The companies conducted extensive research to evaluate the way they approached recruitment, with the result being a complete reorganization of the recruitment team. The new “Network Development” team emerged. Additionally, CruiseOne refocused on the philosophy of “awarding” franchises, rather than selling them.
In setting ambitious goals for growth in 2009, CruiseOne & Cruises Inc. doubled their Network Development head count. This included the addition of several experienced industry executives to support Tim Courtney, the head of Network Development, and his existing team:
• Robert Auclair joined from a competing host agency, where he served as their top Account Sales Executive.
• Terri Maldonado, a former home-based independent contractor for Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the Travel Trade “Travel Agent of the Year,” was also brought onboard.
• Stuart Cohen joined as an independent franchise development consultant. Stuart is the president of Exclamation Points, a professional business consulting company.
• Pat Tedesco, founder of The Executive Training and Development Group and another former member of the Carlson Wagonlit team, was also retained as a Network Development specialist.
Rounding out the Network Development additions was a second contract administration professional.
Strategies & Tactics for Success
Once the new CruiseOne & Cruises Inc. Network Development team was in place, the group made several bold moves in order to facilitate the companies’ growth:
• Increased Marketing Spend – complementing the enhanced focus on Network Development was a significant recruitment marketing budget increase. The goal was to aggressively target entrepreneurs in industries beyond travel, as well as highly experienced agents.
• Expanding Presence Among Veterans and Minorities – CruiseOne stepped up its involvement in VetFran, adding 10 new veterans as franchise owners. Through a relationship with MinorityFran, CruiseOne brought on 11 new minority-owned businesses in Q3 and Q4 2009.
• First-Ever Financing Plan for New Franchisees – Also in 2009, CruiseOne offered its first-ever franchise financing plan, making a CruiseOne franchise accessible to experienced entrepreneurs facing challenges presented by the tough economy.
In 2009, the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. Network Development Team far exceeded its growth goals. At CruiseOne, 68 new full franchises were awarded. An impressive 101 independent contractors joined Cruises Inc., marking the fourth consecutive year adding 100+ on the host agency side. Overall, the total numbers climbed to 594 CruiseOne franchisees and 498 Cruises Inc. Independent Contractors. This included the addition of CruiseOne’s first-ever international franchise, located in Norway.
CruiseOne & Cruises Inc. were praised for their success in 2009 by leading business media and organizations. Accolades included:
• Dunn & Bradstreet’s AllBusiness Franchise All-Star – #1 Travel Agency Franchise
• Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 – #90 (First Time in Top 100)
• Franchise Business Review’s Franchisee Satisfaction – Top 50 Franchisor
• VetFran – Top 5 Veteran Recruiter
• GI Jobs – Top Military-Friendly Franchise
Moving Forward in 2010 – 200% to Goal & Adding Expert Agents Daily
So far in 2010, CruiseOne & Cruises Inc. are up 200% over their year-end Network Development goal. Growth in Q1 2010 is attributed primarily to the addition of expert agents, multi-million dollar agencies and top travel industry executives.
Terry Robertson, a seasoned travel industry executive, recently completed CruiseOne’s new franchisee training program. Robertson is the former COO of Lindblad Expeditions, Founder/COO/President of Grand Expeditions and EVP/GM of Carlson Wagonlit. Deb Tatter, owner of the $1M+ Indiana-based agency Going Places, also recently came onboard. Both Robertson and Tatter have opened their own CruiseOne franchises in the past 60 days.
“Realizing success in a year like 2009 forced us to set even more aggressive goals for 2010,” said Wall. “We have the staff and budget in place to support our ambitions this year and I am confident that by combining our approach to Network Development with our commitment to agent engagement in 2010, we will continue raising the bar and growing our business by leaps and bounds.”