Laura De La Horra used to work a demanding corporate job. As a Cruise Planners home-based business owner, she is in control of her own time.
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If you have ever dreamed of skipping your morning commute and earning a good salary working poolside, the good news is that you can make that dream come true. More and more Americans are ditching their corporate jobs in exchange for heading up their own home-based businesses – which can offer greater autonomy and flexibility.
Home-based businesses usually fall under two main categories.
Whether you choose to run your home-based business as a sole proprietor or a franchisee, doing so successfully requires more than just the discipline to work enough hours. You need to understand how you can capitalize on your strengths, how you can best serve your market, and what you need to do to legally launch and grow your business.
Cruise Planners provides home-based business owners the flexibility to be in control of their business while still having the support and leverage of the nation’s largest travel franchise network behind them.
Using Cruise Planners’ robust technology, home-based business owner Andy Popick can work from anywhere with an internet connection, whether from home, at a coffee shop or while traveling.
If you have a passion for travel and a desire to design amazing vacations for clients, Cruise Planners might be the right home-based business for you.
Cruise Planners®, an American Express Travel Representative, was founded in 1994 by Michelle Fee, along with two travel industry veterans in Coral Springs, Florida. Named one of the top 200 franchise opportunities for 2019 by Franchise Business Review and the No. 1 travel franchise to own by Entrepreneur magazine, Cruise Planners is a home-based travel business offering cruises, guided land tours, and all-inclusive resort vacations to customers throughout the United States. Its nationwide network of more than 2,500 home-based travel agents enjoys open territories and can sell travel to anyone in the United States.
Besides incredible travel opportunities, here are some other perks Cruise Planners’ franchisees enjoy:
• You can work from anywhere if you are connected to the Internet. If you have a connection, Cruise Planners supplies the technology you need to do your research and book your clients. Its "MarTech" suite – a blend of marketing and technology applications – is yours to tap into, without any hefty monthly fees. It also offers a robust CRM and booking platform, agent and client mobile apps, email automation platform, and Amazon Alexa compatibility to allow you to sell more and truly work from anywhere.
• You aren’t always “on call.” Cruise Planners agents cover for one another. As a sole proprietor, you might need to pass on new business or forgo taking any time off. At Cruise Planners, agents can choose to back up one another using the same technology—allowing their customers to make changes to their itineraries or book travel without missing a beat.
• You can expect great support from industry experts. The corporate office does not sell travel packages—it exists only to boost business for its franchisees. Representatives from the corporate office provide training, marketing support and coaching as part of your franchise investment.
Laura De La Horra of Plantation, Florida joined Cruise Planners part time in 2012 with no travel experience. She officially resigned from corporate life in 2014, committing full-time to her Cruise Planners franchise—and hasn’t looked back since.
“It’s rewarding. I have control of my time,” she said. “If I choose to work on a Saturday, I am doing something fun and beneficial for me. I am taking back ownership of who I think I am--an individual who wants to be successful, but who also wants time with family and time to do things they enjoy.”
A typical day for De La Horra includes checking email and making sure she responds to all her clients before conducting research on a vacation package or making plans to grow her business. Every day, she checks her financial snapshot and where she is in relationship to her sales goals. Although it might seem daunting at first, de la Horra encourages anyone thinking about starting their own business to go for it.
“It’s okay to start your own business. Don’t be scared, you can do this on your own,” she said. “Learn, work hard, and you’ll succeed. You have to have faith in yourself in order to do that. I wish I had started my business many more years ago than when I did. When I left my corporate America job to join Cruise Planners and start a travel agency, I liberated myself.”
Andy Popick balances his role as a battalion chief in his local fire rescue department with his job as a home-based travel agent for Cruise Planners. He enjoys the portability of the job, as well as his ability to set his own schedule. With just a laptop or an iPad, Popick can respond to clients easily. Although he enjoys working on a large computer screen in his home office and keeps track of his weekly schedule and to-do list on a big whiteboard, he’s also happy to follow-up clients in person. Flexibility on both sides is key to running a home-based business, he said.
“It’s easy to let it consume your life 24-7, but you have to be able to balance everything,” Popick said, later adding, “When you love what you do it’s not a job.”
Becoming a Cruise Planners business owner is attainable for most people; since it is one of the lowest cost franchises you can own, you only need as little as $10,995 in cash to get started. You don’t need to be a world traveler, either; you just need to share a passion for travel and a desire to bring excellent customer service to clients planning land and sea vacations. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and are ready to begin an encore career that will let you see the world, Cruise Planners could be right for you.