The Anatomy of Jumping Ship

June 30, 2021

Why a Travel Advisor Saw the Benefits of Leaving Her Host for Franchise Ownership

For Caroline Swift, 54 and a working mother from Orange County, California, the decision to start a travel career was fairly straightforward. After 15 years of working in various roles in government, supporting court administration, she decided to take time off to focus on raising her three daughters and getting involved in their schooling, sports and planning the family’s vacations. Given her family’s penchant for travel, she pondered, “If I can organize a vacation with two adults and three children, it’s very easy to coordinate a vacation for one couple, two couples...” And so began her career as a travel advisor.

A New Frontier

Snorkeling Tour, Napali Coast

To many greenhorn Travel Advisors, an agency is an agency. The workings of the travel industry are often as unknown as they are resilient. “I didn’t know about the travel industry in general as a profession,” says Caroline. Despite her inexperience, she quickly became her organization’s top independent contractor.

She had chosen the travel franchise company she was affiliated with because, at the time, they offered what she felt she needed. But within the first year, she realized that regardless of her sales success and high close rate, she was constantly being held back because of her franchise relationship. She knew there must be a better way.

Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Jamaica

Imagine being the star player on your team, only to have to compete against the team itself. That’s the situation Caroline found herself in, as an independent Travel Agent for a company that not only sold travel directly to clients, but often had better promotions than she was offered to sell. On more than one occasion she had to invest her own money just to match the travel deals that her parent company was offering. She started to feel disenchanted.

Success Deferred

In February of 2020, while attending the Los Angeles stop of the renowned Travel & Adventure Show, Caroline met an attendee from Cruise Planners.

What followed was a very candid conversation about structure, pay, and support, things that have typically swayed many a Travel Advisor to make the switch to Cruise Planners. But that’s not what convinced Caroline Swift.

“What really led me to being interested in Cruise Planners was when he said, ‘Cruise Planners does not directly sell cruises or vacations.’” Instantly she knew what she’d been missing, a company that puts its full interest and attention into supporting its franchisees. "I didn't have anything to lose, everything to gain, and I'd be working for me.”

Kilauea Beach Coast, Kauai

A Double Encore

Once she was committed to Cruise Planners, Caroline went to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to attend “STAR U” - Sales Training to Accelerate Results University, which is Cruise Planners’ week-long training for new franchise owners. When comparing her onboarding, she recalls that her previous training was provided by agents who were also selling, so their guidance was always guarded, as if delivered by a competitor. Whereas now, with Cruise Planners, she feels free and uninhibited to ask questions and for support since Cruise Planners does not compete with its franchisees by selling travel directly to consumers.

Viking Rhine River Cruise 2019, Netherlands

“I’ve gained so much by being a franchise owner at Cruise Planners,” Caroline said. “Most importantly, I get to be me. I don't have someone telling me I'm doing something wrong or ‘you’re not the owner’.”

She offers a bit of advice to those who find themselves held back by red tape like she was: “ Why not make the jump? The sole difference for me is I’m not competing with my own host. If you have a passion for travel, and love what you do, Cruise Planners is the best opportunity you’re going to find.”

Learn more about Caroline Swift, and many more franchisee stories in the Franchise Owner Stories video gallery!