Expedia CruiseShipCenters — A Top Rated Cruise Travel Agency
Travel agency franchise boasts one of the best brand names in the world and expertise to match
Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® launched in 1987 and is a leading seller of cruise travel in North America. Our travel agency franchise is rapidly expanding, with nearly 200 locations open or under development. Our growth is driven by three overarching factors: our proven business model is affordable to start and extremely scalable, our focus on cruise vacations makes us a trusted resource among cruise customers who overwhelmingly prefer to book with a travel agent, and the cruise industry is growing quickly.
“Cruises are becoming increasingly popular because they offer comfort and convenience while making it easy for people to visit several exotic locations on a single trip,” says Expedia CruiseShipCenters President Matthew Eichhorst. “The industry has been growing quickly since it first started to really take off in the 1970s, and as the industry has grown, options have proliferated. That’s great, because it means there are more types of cruises catering to different customers, which has expanded the appeal of cruising. At the same time, though, the sheer magnitude of travel options has become overwhelming for many travelers.”
Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners and the independent Vacation Consultants help customers navigate options to pick the right cruise line and travel plan. Personal service is key. While travelers book hotels and car rentals online, they rely on travel agents for help booking cruises. According to Cruise Lines International, 70% of cruises are sold by travel agents and not via websites or from cruise lines direct (2014 CLIA North American Market Profile).
Affordable to Own, Easy to Scale
The travel industry has changed a lot since 1987. Many mom-and-pop travel agencies went out of business as online travel agencies gained market share. Other travel franchises became work-from-home businesses with limited upside. Expedia CruiseShipCenters has flourished by focusing on, and dominating, the cruise niche through relentless focus on customer service offered through the credible source of a retail storefront.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters sales have grown, on average, 20% a year for the past two decades. That’s three times faster than the growth rate of the cruise industry overall, and the cruise industry is no slouch! Industry revenue is projected to hit $39.6 billion in 2015 — up 59% from 2009.
The Expedia® name gives franchisees instant credibility because customers know there is a well-established corporation standing behind our independent business owners. Second, we can leverage buying power. As the top cruise seller in North America, cruise lines recognize us as an important business partner. We are able to negotiate great deals for customer travel and great training, learning, and co-marketing opportunities for our franchisees. Cruise lines will often co-host events for customers at our locations — and that helps bring more customers to the business, and also helps travel agents learn more about different ships and trips. Third, our locations allow our travel agency franchise owners to build a team of independent travel agents who share knowledge and work together to drive sales, which means more commissions for everybody. As an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner, you support your travel agents and earn a share of commissions, so the bigger and better your team, the stronger your financial return.
The Booming Cruise Industry
50 million North Americans are interested in taking a cruise in the next three years – and they have a lot of questions! That’s why two-thirds of them will likely book their vacation with a travel agent. Or better yet, a cruise specialist who can navigate through the sea of options available to today’s cruisers. With so many destinations, ships and staterooms to choose from, travelers are looking for expert, in-person advice from a trusted professional. With 9 out of 10 cruisers saying they will cruise again, the opportunity for travel agency franchises backed by a recognized brand is massive. Capitalize on this booming industry, start a travel agency with Expedia.
“Our model is designed to help entrepreneurs achieve scale by bringing together a group of people who are passionate about travel and love helping people have the time of their lives,” Matthew says. “We’re not looking for people who want to just work out of their home office by themselves. We’re looking for people who want their business to serve as a headquarters for travel agents, and who want to market the business and provide the training and tools that allow agents to thrive.”
Chris Meyer, who owns an Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in Orange County, California, sums up the relationships nicely:
“Their mantra is that the franchisees are their customers. My mantra is that the Vacation Consultants are my customers, and the travelers are the Vacation Consultants’ customers,” he says. “I’m focused on helping others succeed, which helps me. Expedia has the same attitude. They provide systems and support that give me the ability to be more successful.”
Costs & Fees
Mature Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations (that have been in business three years or longer) in North America have a median net revenue of $160,558 and the startup costs range from $94,500 to $179,500. Candidates should have at least $50,000 in liquid capital to invest and a minimum net worth of $250,000.