With a passion for travel, business savvy and a proven model, travel agency franchise owners are finding success in entrepreneurship
The decision to leave a full-time career for a new life as an entrepreneurial business owner doesn’t have to be a scary one. The benefit of joining a proven franchise system is that the blueprint for success has been established for you based on the years of experience brought by franchise owners before you.
That’s why Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners come from a wide range of backgrounds: from former executives in high-profile ad agencies, to former upper-level managers in the energy industry, to former newspaper editors. What unites our travel franchise owners is their love of travel, their desire to lead a team, and their ability to leverage our proven business model to connect with cruisers in their communities.
Here are three reasons why 2016 is a great year to fulfill your dream of being your own boss in the booming cruise industry:
Turn Your Passion into Profit
Whether you love trying new cuisines, working with animals, or exploring the world, starting your own business gives you the chance to pursue your passion while building a career you love. Franchising provides endless industries and opportunities to choose from so you can find the perfect fit for you and build a business doing something you’ll enjoy every day.
At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, our travel franchise owners are passionate travelers, but more importantly, they are passionate about sharing in the vacation experiences of travelers in their local community. Each of our travel agency franchises is not simply a store selling travel, they are navigators of spectacular vacation experiences! From the time a customer begins their research, to the time they return home from their trip, our travel franchises are the one-stop-shop for expert vacation advice, personalized service and Expedia value.
That means our travel franchise owners are also passionate about providing exceptional customer service.
“The value we add is in being thoughtful,” Mary Beth says. “We have to know what this vacation will bring to them and their families. There’s a lot of patience and hand-holding from our side. Our customers can, and do, ask us anything. Then when our customers get off the ship, we do a follow-up: Did we meet their expectations? Where are they going to go next?”
This passion and dedication is why the majority of cruisers still want to consult with a real person before purchasing their vacations. In fact, Cruise Lines International Association reports that 70% of cruisers prefer to book their vacations through a travel agent, and that number is likely to rise as the options for cruise vacations continue to expand.
Take on a New Challenge
Building a thriving business from nothing can be incredibly challenging. It’s also incredibly rewarding when you succeed. Nothing is more exhilarating than overcoming your fears and fulfilling a life-long dream. Many people who turn to franchising come from corporate backgrounds or vastly different industries because they want to experience the challenge and satisfaction that comes with building their own business from the ground up.
At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we don’t have any trouble finding people who love to travel. The biggest challenge our travel franchise owners face is their daily task of recruiting, coaching and motivating a large team of Vacation Consultants. Many of our franchisees have no experience managing a sales team, but with the training and coaching tools we provide, they can become exceptional team leaders if they love to work with people. Our most successful franchise owners approach this challenge head on and make team leadership their top priority every day. They know that the larger and more successful their Consultants are, the more successful and profitable their franchise will be.
Chris Meyer, who owns an Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in Orange County, California, sums up our customer service hierarchy nicely:
“The corporate team’s 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 CruiseShipCenters has the same attitude. They provide systems and support that give me the ability to be more successful.”
Control Your Own Destiny
Perhaps the most enticing aspect of entrepreneurial freedom is the ability to control your future success. The more effort you put into your business, the more you’ll get out of it. Unlike a corporate job where your next raise depends on someone else, being your own boss means you get to control your own destiny. Of course there are pros and cons that come with that kind of uncertainty, but in most cases of franchise ownership there’s a direct correlation between how hard you work, your ability to follow a system, and the rewards you’ll reap.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners love what they do and their hard work is a huge part of why our company has enjoyed an average sales growth of 20% annually for more than two decades. Plus, our travel franchise model is built for scalability, which also allows our franchisees to continuously build their business over the course of many years.
We set our franchisees up with a system that’s designed for continuous growth over time. At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, there is no limit to how large you can grow your sales team of Vacation Consultants who sell travel on your behalf, which means the growth potential of a single franchise location is substantial. If you want to take your business to the next level, you increase the size of your team and continue training, motivating, and coaching them to set and exceed their own personal sales goals.
Opening multiple locations is another way to continue building equity in your travel franchise.
“I have one location and plan to open two more in Phoenix,” Franchise Partner Noam Meppen says. “I also have two other territories on hold. My commitment is to have three locations by 2020. People will only go so far, stores do a lot of business with people who live within two to three miles. The true magic of this system, and why it is different, is the credibility of having a location the customer can visit.”
Ready to Be Your Own Boss?
There has never been a better time to start a business in the cruise industry. In 2015, Cruise Lines International Association reported that 23 million people took a cruise — and they project that number will rise by another million in 2016.
As the industry races to keep up with the rapidly growing demand for cruise travel, significant investments are being made to further the popularity of the lifestyle. CLIA reports that 30 new river ships will set sail for the first time in 2016, while 57 new ocean ships will debut by 2022, expanding the capacity for cruisers by over 9 million. The golden age of cruising is yet to come.
With more than 200 travel franchise locations open or under development and a record growth year in 2015 with 40 new franchise markets awarded, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is one of the largest sellers of cruise travel in North America, generating up to 15 times the average sales per location of competing franchises. There are a lot of reasons for those figures, but perhaps the biggest two are our business model and the strength of our brand name.
“You don’t have to explain who you are when Expedia is part of your name — our brand gives our travel franchise owners instant credibility,” says Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “Our vision is to be the largest cruise retail network in North America and a trusted brand in our communities,” Matthew says. “In the year 2020, I see 500 Expedia CruiseShipCenters, with 300 of those stores in the United States.”
Expedia CruiseShipCenters is actively seeking entrepreneurs who are passionate about travel, customer service, and team leadership. If that sounds like you, we’d love to have a conversation about how you can make 2016 the year you become your own boss.