Welcome to Locally Grown, where we introduce you to a business that was started and grown in Lake County. This month it is our pleasure to introduce you to Heather Ryan, owner of Cruise Planners, an individually owned and operated part of the American Express Travel Representative network and the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise company in the travel industry. Cruise Planners’ travel professionals independently book amazing vacation and travel experiences for their clients around the world.
After another grueling winter, cool spring and busy end of the school year, I need a vacation. No, for real, I really need a vacation. I want an official vacation, with both time to myself and amazing experiences for my whole family, somewhere far, far away from Lake County, IL. But here is the problem: I have 4 young kids, a limited budget and so many options. I’m totally overwhelmed at the thought of planning a vacation. This is where the services of Heather Ryan, Cruise Planners can come to save the day.
Heather is the owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, who can plan your land or sea vacation (despite the name, Cruise Planners doesn’t just do cruises!). Heather specializes in family travel, special needs, and group travel. Her service is free to clients, and saves hours of time and stress in planning your perfect family vacation.
Once you’ve made the decision to plan a vacation, and you can narrow down what kind of vacation (for example, beach, cruise, Alaska, European, etc.) it’s a great time to call Heather. She will ask you a series of questions about what you would like out of your vacation, how many people in the group, any special needs you may have, and of course, what your budget is. In addition, she’ll ask about experiences you have had in the past, what kind of atmosphere you are looking for and what you really want to avoid. For example many travelers are looking for resorts or cruises with a kids club, while others may be looking for a more party attitude.
Based on your answers, Heather will typically provide you with about three vacation options that she thinks fit your needs and budget. As you review them, you can make additions and changes until you work together with Heather to create your perfect family vacation. The process can all be done over email and phone, from the comfort of your home. Once the perfect itinerary is planned and approved, and you are ready to book, Heather will process everything for you.
Heather has access to rates and discounts as a Travel Representative that are not available online. When you book through Heather, typically you will get a lower price, or at least equal price, to what is available online. If you are traveling with a group for example, Heather may be able to get you a deal such as book 8 people, and the 9th person travels for free, or an added cocktail party or credit to your group during the trip.
Booking through Heather provides you with concierge level service, for free. She will get to know you, develop a relationship, learn what you want, and make sure those needs are met. In addition, Heather will always be a phone call or email away to answer questions. Once on your trip, if you encounter any issues, Heather will still be available to make sure the situation is resolved. And if you have any special needs children, Heather has certifications to make sure that those needs are met, including hotel accommodations and access at tourist attractions.
So what kind of trip can Heather plan for you? The sky is really the limit. She is Disney Certified, so if a trip to Orlando is on the horizon, Heather can make sure that you have the perfect itinerary. She will work with you to make sure the most important meal with princesses or Star Wars tour are booked and waiting for you when you arrive. Disney is a complicated trip, and for many families it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Cruise Planners’ experience is invaluable in ensuring your family gets the most from the trip.
But sometimes it’s time for grown up fun. How about a girl’s weekend? While chatting with Heather this afternoon, she had me ready to sign up for a Sandals special Girlfriends Getaway this September. How nice does that sound?
There is no reason to get lost in the abyss of the internet as you plan your next vacation. You can save yourself time and money (and peace of mind) by calling Heather Ryan with Cruise Planners for any and all of your vacation needs.
Disclosure: Master Cruise Planners is our featured Locally Grown Business of the Month. This series of features is part of a paid partnership with Little Lake County. Contact littlelakecounty[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested in featuring your own locally-owned business in our series.