Founded | 2015
Headquarters | San Juan, Puerto Rico
Co-Founders & Co-CEOs Michael “Hutch” Hutchison and Frank Codina
Product Category | Travel Club Memberships
With 33 million cruise passengers projected by 2026, the cruise industry is primed for a huge comeback. And for inGroup Partners and Members, the good news doesn’t stop there. The travel industry has endured more than its share of challenges in the last three years, and travel is more than back—it’s booming.
Cruises Were Just the Beginning
When inCruises launched its flagship Membership program in 2016, Co-Founders Frank Codina and Michael “Hutch” Hutchison were ready to take on the world. Within four years, inCruises became a hundred-million-dollar business and was poised for even more aggressive growth. But that fourth year was 2020, when cruising abruptly came to a halt amidst the global pandemic.
“Most of the industry was shut down and was longer than any other industry,” shared Hutch. “You could get on an airplane. You could check into a hotel. You could go to Disneyland, but you couldn’t get on a cruise.”
While industry peers began to downsize or were forced to shut down completely, inCruises managed to emerge stronger than before. The company grew during 2020, one of the few travel companies to experience growth that year. Hutch, Frank and their team refunded their Members’ canceled cruises instead of issuing future cruise credits. They worked with Members who were unable to make their monthly membership payments. Even Members who couldn’t stay current with their memberships were invited back with their past Reward Points honored. Beyond Member management, the team pivoted quickly to find ways to strengthen the company for the future.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as the saying goes,” Hutch said. “We strengthened our executive team. We strengthened our relationship with the cruise lines. We made better agreements. We’re moving towards more direct relationships with them that wouldn’t have taken place if our model wasn’t so resilient.”
inCruises announced a new name in August and is now known as inGroup. The new name reflects the expanding roster of products currently available and planned for the future. inStays was launched to provide the ability to book hotel and resort reservations and expand travel possibilities from surf to turf. Hutch shared that there’s even more to come.
“Cruising is now only part of our story,” he explained. “In April this year, we enhanced our Membership with hotels and resorts for no additional cost. So, we now have more than 190,000 vacation options that Members can use their Reward Points to book and offer cruise itineraries, hotel and resort choices worldwide. In the future, we plan to launch one new product every 12 months. These will be travel-based product extensions, whether tours, transfers or excursions. It’s all under the inGroup umbrella, and we’re excited about what will come from that.”
Savings the World Over
Now in its seventh year in business, inGroup has over one million registered Members in 198 countries, enjoying travel savings possibilities in destinations worldwide. These members were all personally invited by one of the company’s 73,000 active Partners and are supported by a corporate team of around 100 employees.
Prospective Partners looking to build an inGroup business can sign up with a $95 activation payment that gives them access to a digital portal with all the tools and resources they’ll need to get started. In addition, new Partners can access initial online Basic Training and ongoing development through the company’s Leadership Academy. As a result, they tend to attract first-time cruisers as they share membership possibilities with friends, family and other contacts.
“That’s what the cruise lines love about us,” Hutch shared. “Anytime you bring somebody a new customer, it’s a win. With all the uncertainty and ambiguity in the industry, we bring them new customers and solid bookings. Customers who cruise and cruise often know everything. They have their rhythm, travel agent and loyalty group; they know the cabins they want to sail in. But we bring value to the cruise lines by solving that problem of acquiring new and committed bookings, which they love.”
As the industry continues to invest in new and bigger ships, inGroup Partners will benefit from these exciting and consistent product launches for the foreseeable future, considering each new ship is a billion-dollar product, and more than 75 new ships are expected to launch between now and 2027.
“No other industry within direct selling puts the money into product launches the way that the cruise industry does,” Hutch shared. “And no other company in the travel industry provides the level of savings and convenience on a global basis that we do.”
A Vision of Shared Ownership
Hutch and Frank want to do so much more than save travelers money on incredible vacations—they want to create lasting legacies for every inGroup Partner that joins the team.
“The ultimate reward for an entrepreneur, for Hutch and me, is legacy—a transition plan,” Frank explained. “The thing that I’m most excited about is that we made a decision this past year to share in the ownership of our company.”
While still a vision in development, inGroup hopes to offer shared ownership to Partners in 2023—a decision that aligns with the path Hutch and Frank have encouraged their leaders to follow since launching the business. Leadership, legacy and impact have all been at the core of the company’s training and development program since the beginning.
“If you just look at the evolution of all we have done coming out of the pandemic—the membership enhancement, the partnership enhancement, the branding enhancement—that all led to ownership,” Hutch shared. “We’re always looking for ways to help our key leaders become financially independent. So, when you make these decisions to evolve the brand of your company, to update the compensation plan, and to refund customers money, then it’s not just Frank’s and my pocket that it’s coming out of, it’s coming out of everybody’s pocket. We’re all on one page. We have a bright future. We have collective energy and focus together.”
With a new name, new product offerings and an ever-growing list of destinations, ships and hotels to share with new Members worldwide, inGroup offers a unique opportunity within the direct selling industry for prospective Partners. With shared ownership on the horizon for Partners in the field, the company will soon offer what Hutch sees as a much greater possibility: impact.
“I say to our team and leaders, ‘Do you look for somebody that wants to travel, or do you look for somebody that wants to make an impact?’” Hutch said. “Most people answer, ‘Those that want to travel.’ But I say, ‘No, you want to look for those that want to make an impact—those making an impact doing meaningful work.’”
From the October 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.