Cruise Planners Executive Team Purchases Company

  Cruise Planners Executive Team Purchases Company

   CEO, CFO and new COO now own 100 percent of home-based franchise travel
                                   company

Business Wire

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- January 8, 2013

Cruise Planners - American Express Travel, the nation’s largest home-based
travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, today announced that
CEO Michelle Fee, CFO Tom Kruszewski, and Executive Vice President of Sales
and Marketing Vicky Garcia together purchased the company from Palm Beach
Capital, a private equity investment firm that had been the majority owner of
Cruise Planners since 2005. The transaction price for the deal, which closed
on Dec. 31, was not disclosed.

Fee, who has owned the company since she co-founded it 19 years ago, said
she’s thrilled about this partnership and the strength the team gives to the
company with their strong commitment to agents as well as the industry.

“I am honored to say that I now have two of the best partners in the
business,” said Fee. “Cruise Planners has come a long way since its inception
and much of our success comes as a result of the dedication and innovation of
Tom and Vicky. We believe in this industry, its potential for growth and
together this partnership will strengthen the company’s efforts to support our
incredible agents.”

Cruise Planners was created by Fee along with industry veterans Lynn Korn and
Marvin Davis in 1994. Just prior to the retirement of Korn and Davis in 2007,
their shares in the company were purchased by Palm Beach Capital. Fee
continued to grow the business, signing on Garcia in 2004 and Kruszewski in
2008 to round out the executive team. Under their management, Cruise Planners
has earned top sales awards from all of the major cruise lines and increased
the number of franchisees to more than 800 with an impressive growth in 2012.

Under the new ownership, Fee will remain CEO and Kruszewski as CFO. Garcia
will take on the new title of COO, overseeing the overall strategic and
operational responsibility for all business development and marketing programs
including the formation of third party partnerships that have become an
extension of the company’s in-house offerings for agents.

“Cruise Planners is known in the industry for its family-business approach to
servicing agents as well as clients, so it’s always felt like my family,” said
Garcia. “Now we really are one big family and we will continue to focus our
attention on our agents. We don’t sell travel, they do and we’re here to give
them the tools and the resources to be the most successful travel advisors in
the business.”

On the heels of the company’s annual convention titled The Cruisitude
Revolution, which took place last month in Hollywood, Florida, the new
partners have set the stage for a robust 2013 with a number of technological
advancements being launched this year including a consumer smartphone app,
additions to the agents’ websites called MyTrips, a client portal where anyone
authorized can login to view upcoming trips and share them with friends and
family via social media, and Client Snapshots, which allows agents to see an
intelligent view of their clients’ buying and travel patterns, as well as the
highly-anticipated Cruise Fare Reduction tool that allows agents to easily see
if a cruise fare has dropped since booking.

“This investment illustrates the dedication our executive team has in the
success of the Home Office associates as well as our franchisees,” continued
Fee. “This partnership was the logical next step for the company and we have
some wonderful plans in store that will take Cruise Planners and our agents to
new heights.”

About Cruise Planners - American Express Travel

Named No.1 Cruise Tour / Travel Agency by Entrepreneur for the past nine
years, Cruise Planners positions franchise owners for success by providing
them with innovative marketing, booking and lead-generating tools as well as
professional development and hands-on training with the industry’s top
executives.

Headquartered in Coral Springs, Fla., Cruise Planners has achieved top
producer status with every major cruise line. Accolades include a record nine
Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly in 2012, Special Needs Group Accessible
Travel Advocate Power Partners™ for 2012, American Express Travel
Representative Excellence Award for seven years in a row (2004 – 2011),
American Express Agency of the Year (2010), Royal Caribbean International
Home-Based Partner of the Year (2007 – 2012), Norwegian Cruise Line Franchise
Agency of the Year (2012-2013) and Home-Based Agency of the Year (2010),
Celebrity Cruises Southeast Region Travel Agent Partner of the Year (2010),
American Express Vacations Globe Award (2008 – 2012), Globus Family of Brands
Premier Agency Partner (2009- 2012), Platinum Circle Member with Viking River
Cruises (2009-2012), and Regent Seven Seas Cruises Top Producer. For
information, visit www.cruiseplanners.com.

Contact:

For Cruise Planners - American Express Travel
Cheryl Andrews Marketing
Holly Zawyer/Jessica Drouet, 305-444-4033
holly@cam-pr.com /jessica@cam-pr.com
 
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