After spending the past 30 years in the broadcasting industry, the iconic Indianapolis radio hosts Ann Craig and John Cinnamon are now sending the city to new places. The couple’s adventurous lifestyle drew their interest to invest in a CruiseOne® travel franchise. However this career path was not always so clear.
“When people find out we are in the travel agency business they often say, ‘Oh I bet you travel a lot,’ assuming we travel because we are in the business. Whereas, we actually got in the business because we travel a lot,” says John.
Feeling radio was a fading industry, the couple left their broadcasting careers and became active entrepreneurs, looking to pursue different business prospects.
One afternoon Ann was having lunch with a friend who had just began her job as a franchise sales representative for CruiseOne. A self-declared “travel junkie,” Ann became intrigued by the possibilities the franchise could offer. Investigating various other travel franchise opportunities, she and John decided CruiseOne their best option.
John and Ann then sold their E-commerce business to buy the CruiseOne franchise in 2011, and the couple’s passion for travel was turned into an exciting new business. Admitting at that time she was not a fan of franchising due to the rules, regulations and fees, Ann says that looking at the CruiseOne business model was a no brainer. “They offer so much at a very small overhead,” she explains. “And the process is simple.”
After signing the paperwork, the couple attended a week training course in Florida at no additional cost. “We were taught all the software we needed to know and met the cruise line and land tour reps. It was a very smooth process,” explains John.
For Ann, the love of travelling came at an early age. From Louisville, Ky., she grew up in an adventurous family of avid travelers. Marrying her first husband at the age of 19, Ann moved to Tehran, Iran, where she lived for a year-and-a-half. She has recently published a book about her time spent there, titled “Walking Naked In Tehran,” the title is based off a reoccurring nightmare.
John Cinnamon grew up in from Toulon, Ill. Meeting Ann while working together in radio, the pair soon discovered their mutual love for travelling. Marrying in June 1995, the two have travelled to more than 60 countries, 50 states, seven continents and across 500,000 miles together.
“Without sounding like we’re bragging, we’ve been virtually everywhere and we see that as a benefit to our customers. We have that been there done that experience to guide people to where they might want to go,” says John. “We’re not just travel agents, we’re travel experts.”
“Instead of talking to someone who hasn’t been many places, we can talk to customers about it from our experiences and give them solid information that they can’t get just anywhere,” adds Ann.
The couple describes one of their most memorable days as New Years Day, 2008. While travelling in Easter Island, the couple rented a scooter and rode around the island, passing giant stone heads and feeling as though they were the only people on earth.
Reflecting on their previous entrepreneurial endeavors, Ann talks about how CruiseOne is so different. “I don’t know if I was ever really proud of what I owned before, this I’m actually proud of,” she says. “I know it, I understand it, I live it, and I love to travel. For our lifestyle this fits very nice and it’s something I really enjoy.”
Their fifth business, the couple previous owned a mortgage business, a dry cleaners, a web-based business and they still own a magazine publication. “Some we didn’t like, some we did, but nothing that we had a real passion for until we found this,” she says.
The biggest challenge the couple has faced in franchising so far has been generating their business. “You need to let people know you’re there,” says Ann. “Even though you can have huge support you still have to make a name for yourself. Networking is key.”
“We’ve been known as ‘the radio people’ for the past 25, 30 years. It’s an educational process to get people to think of us as ‘the travel people,” says John. “It’s frustrating, but it takes education and reminding people you’re there.”
It took the couple about a year to get kicked in and have regular business, but now that they do, they feel good about it and the benefits are lavish. Recently returning from a European driving trip, the couple is taking more trips now than ever possible before.
“We know what the best rates are and take advantage of it for ourselves. We get our own commission and get to travel more. It’s a very flexible lifestyle and you make own hours,” says Ann.
The free excursions and on board credit that CruiseOne offers were selling points for the Cinnamon’s, as were the company’s support system, extensive website specific to franchise locations, back end support and emailing services, to name a few.
To those interested in the franchising industry, Johns says “Do your homework and make comparisons with other franchises available so you can see that CruiseOne has absolutely the best support, processes and offers for their franchisees. You’ll see too how you can take advantage of those opportunities if you enjoy travelling yourself.”
The Cinnamons both highly recommend franchising with CruiseOne., especially for those who like to travel. Offering a discount to female franchisees, they say the low investment and no overhead is refreshing compared to other businesses they invested hundreds of thousands into, in the past.
Where as the business model allows room for associates, the Cinnamons are looking into different expansion options for the future. “Like any other business you have to learn what you’re doing, then you can continue to grow,” says Ann.
Through CruiseOne Ann and John can sell any kind of travel. If you’re not sure of where you want to go, they’ll give advice. They know where to get the best deals, put packages together and will personally walk you through everything.
“We’re proud to be part of CruiseOne, one of the nation’s most trusted and well known travel companies with more than 20 years of experience,” says Ann. “I feel like I’m on the cutting edge of travel, which I feel is, for lack of better words, a sexy kind of thing, the travel allure. I know what’s hot, I know what the deals are, where cruise lines go and what the packages include. I feel like I’m pretty well educated on travel and the world in general and I love that, I really do.”
Today the couple is working on co-writing a book. Based off their travels, the book is anecdotal in the sense that it doesn’t tell you what to do or where to go as you would expect from travel agents, but rather is a collection of their stories from the road. Titled “While We’re In The Neighborhood,” the book is named after Ann’s justification to country hop, or in some cases continent hop, while abroad.
Ann’s justifications have been driving John crazy for years.
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