They say when you find a job you love, it won’t feel like work and that’s exactly the case with Roy and Margaret Jones who, with over 20 years cruising experience, decided to join GoCruise Franchise in 2003. With a real passion for cruise travel, they decided to share their knowledge and help find the perfect cruise for every customer.
We spoke to Roy and Margaret about their experience with GoCruise who are based in Kent. They shared their favourite moments with the franchise and a range of tips they would pass on to anyone who may be considering becoming a GoCruise specialist.
Roy and Margaret previously owned their own business in the catering industry, running a pizza restaurant, before realising that it was too much for them at the time. They were looking for new avenues, not wanting to set up a new business from scratch, but at the same time not wanting too much interference with their day-to-day work.
They decided to look through franchise magazines and saw the opportunity with GoCruise and, having gained experience sailing the seas, decided to give it a try. They have never looked back. Before GoCruise was bought by Fred. Olsen Travel, they decided to open their own store and had a three-year lease. They later discovered the benefits of running a business from home. Roy stated: “We had a database of people who started booking from our home and they tended to prefer that”.
Customers tend to prefer a business they can relate to and can query with at the top level. That’s what the GoCruise franchise provides and how Roy and Margaret have been so successful. They are able to speak directly with customers and meet many potential new customers at cruise shows and presentation-based events. “People buy off myself and Margaret. They don’t buy off an anonymous internet firm”.
Asking Roy how he would describe a day in the life of a GoCruise specialist, he stated that they would get up at 9 am and be ready to take calls at any time. “We check emails and we’re ready to take calls at any time. In between phone calls, we’re preparing emails and mail-outs. It’s a customer-led business.”
Roy and Margaret ensure they are well prepared for any upcoming cruise show or presentation and stress that being available is key. "Sometimes phone calls come in late at night or during the weekend and we have to make sure we can communicate with our customers and follow up any bookings made."
“There was a phone call at 7 am; we didn’t know what to think as it was quite unexpected. We picked it up and it turned out to be a customer who had forgotten his passport and missed his flight from Birmingham. He was supposed to be going on a Caribbean cruise.”
“We organised alternative flights for him from Heathrow in business class at a significant additional cost and his daughter brought his passport to him. We were talking to his wife and told her that they would have to sit separately as the only seats left were at different ends of the plane and she replied with ‘That’s alright, I’m not talking to him!’”
“It's lovely when things go right but you show your worth when things go wrong.”
With regards to tough moments, Roy and Margaret don’t tend to get much negative feedback as they’ve found that most customers enjoy their cruises. The difficulty comes in trying to pair up people with the right cruise line for them. “One case I remember is when we’d organised a Holland America cruise for two different couples. One said they absolutely loved it and the other said they absolutely hated it.” Roy and Margaret strive to ensure they find the right cruise for the right customer, although it’s not always easy.
“The toughest moment comes when the phone isn't ringing and there doesn't seem to be a way forward. My advice would be that GoCruise franchise is not a get rich quick scheme. You have to build a database over time and persevere. That doesn't happen overnight.”
Roy and Margaret have had a very rewarding time with GoCruise Franchise and have many fond memories. “One of the most satisfying moments is when we get customers asking us to create a wedding package for them on a cruise. It’s a huge amount of responsibility but its hugely rewarding when we receive positive feedback.”
“Another satisfying moment is when we book first-time cruisers on a cruise and they return to us explaining how much they loved it and that they want to book their second cruise through us.”
A lot has changed over the last ten years and undoubtedly this will have had a significant impact on the GoCruise Franchise. Roy and Margaret found that the biggest standalone difference came with the development of technology and the internet.
“The internet has changed things so much. We are able to get online pricing, images of the cabins, etc. We still keep all the brochures, though. It’s always good to have something you can refer to immediately and flick through whilst on the phone.”
Finding a way to attract new to cruise customers has proven a difficult task but Roy and Margaret have some tips and guidelines to follow when trying to pair new cruisers with their perfect provider. “The most important thing is to find out where they want to go – that’s often the main focus. That’s followed by their budget so we can work out the limitations. Then it’s a case of working out each customer’s tastes, hobbies, age group, what they like and what ship size they would prefer.”
When asked which cruise line would be ideal for first-time cruisers, Roy stated: “different providers accommodate different tastes. Star Clippers for sailing, Oceania for luxury, Royal Caribbean generally for young people. But our favourite cruise line for first-timers would be Princess Cruises – who provide a safe pair of hands."
"Over time, people become more confident with you and that means you get more bookings.”
“Our all-time favourite cruise was to Hawaii and Tahiti with Princess Cruises on the love boat in early 90’s.” The Love Boat was the title given to Princess Cruises’ former ship Pacific Princess which was also the stage for the popular romantic comedy TV series 'The Love Boat'.
When asked what Roy and Margaret’s top tips would be for people interested in becoming a GoCruise specialist, they cited the following attributes to their success:
Roy and Margaret Jones are cruise enthusiasts and have been doing what they love together for the last 12 years. If this sounds perfect for you then why not get involved? If you have any questions, our dedicated team at GoCruise Franchise are ready to answer any enquiries you have. You can contact us via the Freephone number above or complete an online enquiry form.