“You Can Not Google The Experience”
Writer/ Ann Cinnamon
317.776.1733 ext 1 • 317.670.4200 icanshowyoutheworld.vacations [email protected]
In the digital age, there is a misconception that using a travel agent is more expensive than searching for travel fares yourself online. The reality is starkly different. Working with a travel professional allows access to a wide inventory of travel destinations at terrific prices. Travel professionals add an enormous amount of value in securing the best deals. Most importantly, they eliminate the quality risk factor of going to the unknown destinations based solely on what you see on the internet.
When it comes to travel planning, you might call Christopher Lingren a “rock star”. In fact, that’s the ranking he’s been given by his franchisor, Cruise Planners. Lingren, who is based in Noblesville, has been a Cruise Planners franchisee for 6 years and says he loves what he does.
Cruise Planners, which is an American Express Travel Representative, was founded in 1994 by a travel agent in Coral Springs, Florida and has grown into the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network with more than 1,000 franchise owners. It began by focusing on cruises but has expanded into offering all types of travel. Lingren says overall, Cruise Planners’ business is now made up of 60% cruise bookings and 40% land bookings. His personal business is 30% cruises and 70% land packages.
Lingren says booking with Cruise Planners offers a lot of benefits. “Because of their history and simply by our size, we have fantastic relationships with vendor partners across the spectrum, both ocean, river cruises and the land spectrum as well. We have access to more than 2 million destinations around the world. The level of amenities and perks is high for clients, not to mention the great service”.
And service is the key word. Lingren says he listens to his clients and then customizes travel packages, large or small, to suit their individual needs and desires. “It’s always about them. It’s taking the stress out of trying to find something on their own off their plate. So, it becomes more of a concierge level service in that we have a conversation and I learn about my clients,” he says and adds “it’s not a transaction, it’s a relationship.”
Travel Agents have had a lot of competition in recent years from the internet. Lingren says the average person spends a minimum of 10 hours online researching a one week vacation. Not only does he remove that stress but he also adds a great deal of value. “I’ve been to 4 continents. I’ve been on nearly 30 ships sailing and experiencing. I know the deck plans of the ships. Throughout the Caribbean there are hundreds of all-inclusive resorts. I have personally stepped foot in, stayed, walked or toured 75 of them. I know the countries and the resorts,” he says. “You cannot “google” the experience.”
Lingren has clients in 42 states and Canada and specializes in multi-generational travel, Alaska and Europe. He ranked number four in all of Cruise Planners in 2016 for sales of Disney products and he is proud to say that he has sent clients to all seven continents. Whether it’s a trip to Vegas or an African safari, Lingren says he loves helping his clients make special memories.
“We all have choices in life. I wake up every day excited to help people find remarkable experiences that will give them exceptional new chapters to their life story,” says Lingren who adds, “because it’s not about the acquisition of things it’s about the acquisition of memories”.