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Cruise Holidays Completes Massive Overhaul of WebsiteJuly 15, 2009 By: George Dooley
Cruise Holidays reports it is formally unveiling its redesigned website, www.cruiseholidays.com, which is now in use by all 200 plus franchisees across North America. To date, it is the most visible sign to consumers of the recent merger between Cruise Holidays storefront locations and the home-based locations formerly known as SeaMaster Cruises. Every franchisee now has an individual customized version of the www.cruiseholidays.com national site.
The redesigned site provides an easy-to-use customization tool that all franchisees are encouraged to use, Cruise Holidays says. While each of their sites look very similar to the national site, they can also customize multiple sections, including a substantial amount of real estate on the front page. They can add unlimited pages, designing them from scratch or using pre-designed templates.
“This will allow franchisees to advertise special promotions or niches they have developed in their own area, yet continue to keep the overall look and feel very consistent across the Cruise Holidays brand,” said Mark Schiffner, vice president of Cruise Holidays. The customization tool is intuitive and easy to learn. “If you can work in Microsoft Word, you can master this tool,” commented Schiffner. Updates to the site go live in seconds.
To date the feedback from Cruise Holidays franchisees has been positive.
“The new Cruise Holidays Web site design has been terrific. We were able to start our local customization of the site right away. The new program allows us to make changes and add content quickly with minimal training. It is very intuitive to use and saves us a lot of time and effort,” said Bill Reinagel, owner of Cruise Holidays of Williamsburg, VA. (www.cruiseholidays.com/williamsburg)
“The new Cruise Holidays Web site is outstanding! It’s powerful, yet easy to customize – all without any html knowledge. After a few uploads, a couple of ‘cut and pastes’ and some minor editing, I had not only customized our ‘About Us’ page, but had also added a new page entitled ‘Cruise Along With Us’, a home page promotional box advertising it, and a menu link to the page. All in about thirty minutes – Outstanding!” said Barry Fisher, a Cruise Holidays owner in Lowell, MA. (www.janetandbarry.com)
While the customization tool may be the biggest “win” for franchisees, there are several other key differences that franchisees will immediately be able to utilize:
Integrated Promotion Manager: One of the most useful new tools for consumers is the addition of an integrated promotion manager. Cruise Holidays marketing pieces sent via mail will include promotion codes, which consumers can then type in and look up on that franchisee’s Web site. “We are thrilled to add this new feature because it drives traffic to the Web site and provides consumers with yet another way to learn 24/7 about Cruise Holidays’ exclusive promotions,” said Schiffner.
Franchisee Locator Already Reaping Dividends: A key feature that has been carried over from the previous Web site is a franchisee locator. It marries the listings of Cruise Holidays storefront and home-based agencies, essentially providing consumers with more choice and a greater ability to find a cruise expert even closer to their own home.
Some franchisees are also already reaping dividends from the new agent locator. Diana Whiteside, franchise owner of Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin, TX, got a lead within just days of her new site going live (www.cruiseholidays.com/northwestaustin). She met with the prospective client and soon booked a $10,000 cruise! “It turned out that the client lives within five miles of our office, and had seen our location in the past. It was delightful to see that technology can help us meet our neighbors, and turn them into new friends and clients,” said Whiteside.
Franchisees were shown mock-ups of the site at various stages and provided feedback before the final product was complete. At the same time, the entire project, from initial approval to completion, took only four months.
The Cruise Holidays brand currently includes approximately 250 storefront and home-based franchisees across North America. Its former sister company, SeaMaster Cruises, joined Cruise Holidays’ ranks in June 2009. Cruise Holidays is celebrating its 25th Anniversary during 2009.