'TNT guys' having a blast as a Cruise Planners franchise
Tom Hansen and Ted Goulet are the “TNT guys” with Cruise Planners; they discussed their franchise at Panera Bread in Webster on June 12th.
By ROD LEE
Michelle Fee is living proof that such a thing as the urge to travel—the so-called “travel bug”—exists.
Ted Goulet and Tom Hansen are too.
Ms. Fee was a mother of young children when she launched Cruise Planners in 1994, joined in that initiative by industry veterans Lynn Korn and Marvin Davis, both of whom have since retired. Michelle Fee remains CEO of the organization, which is based in Coral Springs, Florida.
Talking about their own experience during a conversation that took place at Panera Bread in Webster on June 12th, Mr. Goulet said he was in a shop in Key West when an American Express sign caught his eye. “That’s what drew me in,” he said. Of what happened next, Mr. Goulet says “we took eleven months to look into it and said ‘maybe this is something we can do.’”
Both had jobs in the corporate world, prior to obtaining a Cruise Planners franchise, approximately ten years ago.
Cruise Planners is different than other such operations for a few reasons. For one thing, it is home-based. “We are the No. 1 home-based travel agency for twenty-seven years running, and one of the Top 10 to buy (as a franchise) according to Forbes,” Mr. Goulet said.
He noted that “the vast majority of travel agents are not storefronts anymore.”
Also, Cruise Planners is dedicated to providing its clientele with “unforgettable, stress-free and affordable vacations that exceed their every expectation,” the company says on its website.
With that, Cruise Planners is devoted to offering franchise owners like Mr. Goulet and Mr. Hansen the chance to be their own boss and have “a rewarding and fulfilling business that is built on enriching people’s lives” and making customers’ dreams “a reality.”
Cruise Planners has even coined a word for the state of mind it tries to create. It’s called “Cruisitude.”
A married couple with two daughters and three grandsons, Mr. Goulet and Mr. Hansen call themselves the “TNT guys” and they love their work, especially when it comes to establishing a rapport with their clientele.
“We’re old-fashioned, we like to meet our customers,” Mr. Hansen says.
As one of numerous Cruise Planners franchisees, they say “we are not well-traveled but we have travelled.” Indeed, they have been around the world, so to speak, and are ardent advocates for the cruising life.
“Cruising is a great value, you get all the destinations,” they say. “We are connected with every cruise line. We do more business on land than on water. We specialize in custom itineraries. Italy, France, Ireland, those are huge.”
As an example of the lengths they go to in taking care of their customers, when “the world shut down” because of Covid-19, they stayed busy with “re-bookings,” they said. “One of our clients got stuck in Australia. We worked to get her the hell out of there. You won’t get that kind of service online. When our clients travel we are available 24/7.”
Popular destinations with customers of the TNT guys are “Europe—it’s hot. Alaska, Tom’s favorite (‘it was life-changing for me’), the Grand Canyon, D.C., Mexico, the Dominican Republic and always the Caribbean. We are hosting a river cruise in the fall for twenty-one, twenty-two people,” Mr. Goulet said.
Mr. Goulet and Mr. Hansen gain great satisfaction in sharing many of the trips they offer with their customers.
“Not yet,” they say, of taking an African safari. Morocco, “I’ve only seen it as we cruise past,” Mr. Goulet says. Australia and New Zealand are on the wish list.
They tell people “try the Azores.”
Hawaii and Iceland are “very popular.”
A benefit of purchasing cruising packages from them, they say, is “we don’t charge fees. We are paid by the vendors.”
They love that they have “100% operational control” of their business. It keeps them busy, planning for and participating in bridal shows, travel shows and putting together cruise packages; but, they note “it has come back tenfold” in the gratification they feel in putting smiles on customers’ faces.
“Customer service, it’s always there,” Mr. Hansen says. “We stay up to date with changes, we’ve given it our due diligence, which is why we have repeat customers.
Hand-written thank you cards” are a staple of their approach to their vocation.
For more about the “completely personalized vacations” Mr. Goulet and Mr. Hansen offer as travel advisors and franchise owners with Cruise Planners, visit tntguystravel.com.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.