Cruise Planners Sees Improved Bookings, Says Europe and Alaska Selling Well

As Omicron infection rates are beginning to subside, Cruise Planners is reporting two consecutive weeks of positive sales. The franchise agency group says that Europe and Alaska cruises continue to be popular and have represented 24 percent of all sales during the past few weeks. "This makes sense, since there was so much pent-up demand to travel from the last two years," the franchise organization, an American Express Travel Representative, said in a press release.

In addition, Cruise Planners addsed that "the demand for luxury travel has been a consistent bestseller and World Cruises seem to be the hot ticket these days." It also reported that luxury bookings have remained at elevated levels throughout the pandemic.

Cruise Planners said the industry is "inching closer to a delayed Wave Season as consumer sentiment appears to be improving and people are starting to accept the reality of living with the virus."

January Numbers are Up

January sales were 24 percent higher than average, the group reports. "People are ready to travel, and they don’t want to wait,” says Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners.“The protocols are in place, and the cruising industry has been exemplary in the way they have handled the ongoing pandemic."

She adds that "I think our clients have peace of mind knowing that cruise lines are upholding the highest standards of safety to handle any situation that may arise."

Other tidbits?

  • Purchases for the second half of 2022, when compared to the second half of 2019, are "still strong."
  • So far, one in four bookings are for cruise departures in 2023.
  • Overall, the second half of 2022 is outpacing 2019 departures by 37 percent. 

Top-Producing Advisor

In addition, despite the difficult ebb and flow of the pandemic cancellations, Cruise Planners’ top producing franchise agency, Michael Consoli & Associates, posted more than $20 million in travel sales in 2021—significantly outpacing his 2019 numbers.

Based in Roswell, GA, Consoli operates with a small team of three associates. Cruise Planners called that team's sales effort in a pandemic era a "phenomenal" feat.

“When people ask me what the secret sauce is, it’s this," Consoli stresses: "We put a big emphasis on fitting the right product to the guest. We’re not just selling to sell. It takes a lot of organization and attention to detail to make sure we don’t drop the ball." And that includes handling cancellations and re-bookings, which have been prolific over the course of the pandemic. 

Personally, Consoli shows his agency's clients that travel can be safe and rewarding. Since the cruise industry began its restart, he's sailed on two European river cruises and three ocean cruises and also journeyed to Antarctica. 

Fee, who's sailed on five cruises since the pandemic began, says Cruise Planners has encouraged all its franchise advisors to “post away” and show clients that it’s safe to return to cruising. She suggests talking to clients to help ease any worries and to help troubleshoot any issues.

“Since the restart of cruising last year, more than 6 million passengers have safely sailed and enjoyed great vacations,” says Fee, citing recent Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) news.

“We’re learning to navigate this new normal," she believes. "From the numbers, I’m confident demand will outpace supply, so you want to make sure clients are thinking about booking now.”

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