Home-Based Agents and Cruise Lines—Perfect Together

While many people feared that travel agents would have totally disappeared from the landscape by the year 2010, the truth is if you counted every working agent in the U.S. this year, you would have a surprisingly high number of Americans still out there. There are approximately 104,000 travel agents (according to the Department of Labor Statistics,), a number that has remained flat or showed little fluctuation over the last decade or so.

While the number hasn’t changed, it’s pretty likely that the composition of that figure has. Hard figures are difficult to come by, but it's safe to say most new agents aren't settling behind a desk in a strip mall. Instead, they're signing on as franchise owners and working from home with low overhead costs and plenty of flexibility. And the majority of their business is cruises.

Two giant cruise travel agencies, CruiseOne and Cruise Planners/American Express, report massive increases in the number of new home-based franchise owners as the recession has left people unemployed or looking for additional sources of income.

“Well-educated business people are great candidates for us to turn into cruise sellers,'' said  Dwain Wall, senior vice president and general manager of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., in an interview with the Miami Herald. He said real estate agents, bankers, nurses and teachers have all turned to cruise sales in the last couple of years.

CruiseOne, which moved into its new Fort Lauderdale headquarters this month, has added 92 new franchises this year, bringing the total to 658. Cruise Planners, based in Coral Springs, expects to have more than 700 franchises. It currently has 10 of them new.

``It's almost been fueled by the recession,'' Vicky Garcia, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cruise Planners, told the newspaper.


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