How to Build Your Dream Team

Discover how rewarding and profitable it is to build your sales team of Consultants as an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner.
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When prospective new owners are researching our franchise opportunity, we often get asked “What does it take to be successful as an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner?” We always respond in the same way: Build and support a large, high performing team of Vacation Consultants. Our more than 235 retail travel agency locations serving communities across North America create a network of 5,000 Vacation Consultants dedicated to navigating spectacular vacation experiences for their customers.

All Expedia CruiseShipCenters Consultants are recruited as independent contractors paid by commission only. That means there are no salaries to pay and your overhead costs for the business are very low. So, the larger and more successful your team is, the more profitable your business will be.

We know how important recruiting a sales team is to the success of your business. That’s why we’re continuously investing in resources to help you make the opportunity to join your team as easy and appealing as possible.

Why Join Your Team?

There are plenty of great reasons for people to want to join your team as a Vacation Consultant, including our fantastic culture and increasingly positive data surfacing in the industry about the growing demand for travel consulting services. MMGY recently reported that travel agent usage has reached a six year high in 2016 while research from Cruise Lines International Association shows that 82% of all cruisers tend to book through a traditional travel agent. The proof is in the numbers, in June we reached a record 5,000 Vacation Consultants in total across all of our retail travel agency locations!

PTravel_Agent_Recruitment_Posterlus, as part of the Expedia family, your Consultants will benefit from instant brand recognition and credibility that comes with being part of the largest travel company in the world. Expedia’s $81 billion buying power for non-cruise product allows them to sell a full range of vacation options, all at Expedia prices.

We’ve also negotiated some of the highest agent commission rates in the industry because of our sales volume and reputation. Not only do top-tier commissions make the prospect of joining your team more attractive, they also impact your bottom line since your earnings are based on your Consultant’s commissions.

On average our franchise owners open their doors with at least six Consultants and recruit approximately one more each month thereafter. An ideal Consultant has an entrepreneurial mindset, enjoys building relationships and loves planning dream vacations. Consistently growing and coaching your team is essential to maintaining a healthy, profitable business.

So where should you start in building your dream team? Here are just some of the resources and tools we provide to help our franchise owners attract high quality talent.

Dedicated Recruitment Resources to Support You

When you invest in an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise, you can count on a robust 130+ corporate support team to help you grow a profitable business, including a dedicated team focused on helping you with the recruitment and onboarding of Consultants. This valuable resource provides tools and training to help you make it easy to develop your most valuable asset: Your sales team.

Custom Recruitment Marketing Tools & Website

Once you become a franchise owner, we’ll provide you with your own custom recruitment website that will help you attract the right sales people and help them learn about our Vacation Consultant opportunity through a series of easy to follow videos like the one below.

Our comprehensive recruitment marketing strategy also includes a wide range of print and online marketing tools and customizable templates to help our franchise owners grow a team of passionate, enthusiastic consultants. From newspaper ads, flyers and brochures to web banners, email campaigns and in-store merchandising, we’ve got all recruitment marketing needs covered!

Our recruitment marketing team also executes national recruitment advertising on our franchise owner’s behalf with leads that come directly to you.

Recruitment Lead Management System

Once you have a prospective recruit, our proprietary recruitment lead management system will allow you to track and engage with candidates through the process from their first inquiry to the day they join your team. Since recruiting a sales team is an ongoing and essential activity for our franchise owners, having this system provides them with a quick snapshot of who is where in the recruitment process and which follow up activities are required at any given time.

In the same way that your Consultant can set reminders to follow up with their clients, you’ll be able to set reminders for yourself to follow up with your Consultant leads about the opportunity to join your team.

Recruitment Events

One of our most successful recruitment strategies is our recruitment events we call Discovery Nights. Discovery Nights are an opportunity for our franchise owners to meet recruitment prospects in person and provide a live presentation of the opportunity in their franchise location.

In addition to hearing the presentation, prospects get to see the office environment, meet the owner and some of their team members and have the opportunity to schedule a personal interview in order to take the next step.

Bellevue_TeamMeetingWe provide our franchise owners with all of the marketing and training to advertise and lead a Discovery Night in their location including tools to help them get attendees excited about the opportunity to join their team such as a customizable presentation, professional videos and printed recruitment collateral.

Award Winning Consultant Training

Once a Vacation Consultant joins your team, our online International Cruise Academy and award winning Navigators Approach sales training sets them up for success! This in-depth training develops their knowledge, skills and sales behaviors to deliver a spectacular vacation experience for each and every customer.

Keeping your large team engaged and high performing will be essential to your success too, which is why we also provide a kit of tools to help you coach and mentor your Consultants on an ongoing basis. Our Navigators Club recognition program is a huge part of what motivates our Consultants to take their sales to the next level, while our team meeting presentations are carefully crafted by the corporate support team to help you deliver an engaging, exciting and informative presentation to your Consultants each month.  We also host Consultant training events in cities all across North America called Navigator Rallies which deliver product, sales and serving training to your Consultants.

Learn More

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we are committed to helping our franchise owners become best in class leaders who can build a strong team and become the go-to cruise experts in their local community.

For in-depth details about our franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more through this six step overview of our travel agency franchise opportunity here.

What Does It Take to Be a Top Franchise Owner?

How Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ culture of goal setting is driving record-breaking results for local franchise owners

Each year, Expedia CruiseShipCenters holds a National Conference for all of our franchise owners. We get together to communicate company updates, network, share best practices, and celebrate the organization’s continued growth and success over the past year. We hold this event on a 5-7 day cruise to experience the best that our incredible industry has to offer and reinvigorate our collective passion for this business.

The theme of this year’s National Conference was Leading the Way as we reflected back on our 30 years of success as innovators in the cruise and franchise industries. One of the highlights of our time together onboard is always our Presidents Circle Awards celebration where we take the time to recognize the amazing achievements of our franchise owners. This year’s awards event showcased our culture of celebration perfectly as our franchisees recognized the accomplishments of their colleagues with unbridled enthusiasm.

So why is franchisee recognition and goal setting so important to us at Expedia CruiseShipCenters? Here are three reasons:

Having a goal is extremely motivating.

Although there are some serious travel perks that come with being ranked among out top franchise owners (last year’s Diamond level winners received a free Oceania cruise in Europe!), the real motivator for our franchise owners is the sense of accomplishment they feel when they reach the goal they’ve set for their business.  That’s why we saw a record 28 locations this year who achieved the $6 Million single location booked sales threshold required to receive our coveted Presidents Circle Diamond award – the highest honor our franchise owners can receive. The fact that 8 more locations achieved the Diamond level in 2016 vs. 2015 shows the incredible potential for our franchisees to continuously grow their sales (and their business) even 10, 20 or 30 years after opening. Expedia CruiseShipCenters President, Matthew Eichhorst elaborates:

“When we first moved our franchisee recognition to a goal-based format, we received some push back from owners that $4 Million for the top Diamond level was too high. Now, just 6 years later, we have a record 28 locations achieving the $6 Million benchmark for Diamond. Our entire organization has benefited from this shift to goal-based recognition as we have drastically increased our average sales by franchise, all while growing the distribution channel from 120 locations to 235.”

That’s the power of goal setting.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ top Franchise Partners enjoy their 2017 reward cruise aboard Oceania’s Riviera sailing from Athens to Rome.

When asked how the Presidents Circle program has impacted his business, Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner and Diamond level winner from Petaluma, CA, Brian Murphy, said that it gives he and his brother James something to strive for.

“Having a benchmark definitely impacts the way we run our business,” said Brian. “We set goals, develop sales plans to meet those goals, and evaluate progress regularly. Having the opportunity to network with the other Diamond winners on the reward cruise was also very motivating, and has now inspired us to do even better.”

As part of our the support Expedia CruiseShipCentes provides, our Franchise Performance Coaches help our owners set goals each year and check in regularly to make sure you’re on track and implementing the plan you came up with to get there. They’re like an accountability partner for your business!

It’s nice to know you’re on the path to success.

A few years ago, we realized that our new franchisees were having to wait a really long time to have their hard work recognized in the Presidents Circle program, so we developed a new franchisee award called Star Among Your Peers to recognize new owners who were hitting the recommended sales levels for Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchises in years 1-3. We think of them as check-in points along the path to profitability.

Our franchise owner from Greystone, AL, Jon Harvill, who knocked the sales benchmarks out of the park in his first two years, commented on what it meant to him to win this award and be recognized among his fellow franchisees.

“To be recognized with the Star Among Your Peers award is an honor that is truly humbling. To be in the company of successful entrepreneurs, business leaders and franchisees was quite an experience! I’ve been provided a tried and proven system that has given me clear direction on how to successfully plan and implement my daily activities. The benchmarks provide specific targets on what to aim for in order to excel.”

Expedia Franchise Owner, Jon Harvill accepts his Star of Stars award for first year franchise sales.

Expedia Franchise Owner from Greystone, AL, Jon Harvill accepts his Star of Stars award for achieving the highest second year sales in his peer group.

We love to celebrate.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, one of our core values is dedication. Every person in our organization works incredibly hard to serve their customers, whether they are on the corporate team, a franchise owner or a Vacation Consultant serving the end traveler. We’re dedicated to navigating spectacular vacation experiences. Another one of our core values is fun. That’s why we take a time out from that hard work each year to look back at what we’ve achieved as a company and as individual business owners, and celebrate how far we’ve come.

Elliott Finkleman, who owns two franchises in Ontario described that sentiment perfectly when he spoke about finding that balance between dedication and fun.

“Since Expedia CruiseShipCenters is full of professionals from top to the bottom, being recognized as with the Star of Stars award in my third year made me feel grateful. It also makes you feel very humble as so many of my fellow franchise owners are also deserving. Most of all it validates all the hard work and ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.  And of course, there is also that part of me that just wants to jump up and yell YIPEE!”

Learn More

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we understand the power of goal setting and support our franchisees through every step of their business journey, holding them accountable for the things they’ve told us they want to accomplish along the way. We call our franchise owners our Franchise Partners for a reason – it’s because we’re in this together. Your success is our success.

If you’re ready to make your goal of business ownership a reality, we’d love to share more about how Expedia CruiseShipCenters can give you the financial freedom and flexible lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of. Just fill out the form below to receive our free franchise report or read the essentials about our travel agency franchise opportunity here.

What Makes a Great Cruise Promotion?

How we help our franchisees generate new leads and sales all year long
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At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, our promotions are the drumbeat of our organization. Strategically planned and meticulously implemented, the cruise sales we hold over the course of the year provide an essential road map for our franchisees to follow to ensure they are reaching out to the right customers, at the right time, with the right product. Our cruise and marketing experts on your Corporate Support team have carefully planned out every detail of our promotions and leveraged our collective buying power to secure incredible offers for our clients, so that our franchisees don’t have to.

There’s a ton of work that goes into each of the seven promotions we hold throughout the year. Here’s a glimpse into how our franchise owners benefit from our integrated marketing and promotions plan throughout the year.

We Provide a Turn-Key Annual Marketing Plan

Our annual marketing and promotions plan provides a blueprint for our Franchise Partners to follow throughout the year. Through seven strategic core promotions, private sales, and contests strategically Local Franchise Eventtimed over the course of the year, you’ll drive sales for your business and generate fantastic exposure for your Expedia CruiseShipCenters location.

We know that consistency is a significant contributor to business growth and these seven promotions held each year provide a rhythm for you and your team to reach out to your customers with timely, relevant information and a reason to book.

Unbeatable Extras For Your Customers

As one of the leading sellers of cruises in North America, and part of the largest travel brand in the world, our franchisees benefit from massive buying power, especially when it comes to our promotions. The relationships that Expedia CruiseShipCenters has been building with every major cruise line over our 30-year history allows us to negotiate significant advertising funds for our owners and exclusive offers for our clients during each promotion.

we_specials_board_insertThese Expedia® Extras might include an onboard cash credit, a free upgrade or a complementary beverage package available during the promotion window. These extras provide incentive and urgency for customers to book, and in turn provide a huge competitive advantage for our franchise owners in their local market. When your customers know you can provide them with exclusive travel savings and incredible service, they’ll come back to book with you again and again.

Training For You and Your Team

There can be a lot to know about each cruise line and how the promotional offers we’ve secured apply to particular ships or sailings. That’s why we provide a series of emails, webinars and support guides well in advance of each promotion to help both you and your team of Vacation Consultants understand the promotional offers so you can confidently communicate those savings to your customers and maximize bookings.

The monthly team meeting presentation we create on your behalf is an amazing resource during promotions and includes pre-made slides, videos and a script for you to follow. We even hold a team meeting webinar each month to walk you through how to best leverage this month’s resources. All you have to do is get your team in a room and get them excited about the upcoming promotion with your contagious enthusiasm!

An Integrated Marketing Campaign Delivered On Your Behalf

Word Explorer SaleAll of our print, digital and email marketing at Expedia CruiseShipCenters is created by a nearly 20 person marketing team at corporate support. Having them in-house is a huge advantage when it comes to promotions because they all work seamlessly together to convey one promotional message through many marketing mediums at both the national and local levels.

Marketing experts at your Corporate Support team are here to help you with every aspect of executing your local cruise promotion and sales event.

Marketing experts at your Corporate Support team are here to help you with every aspect of executing your local cruise promotion and sales event.

Need an ad for your local newspaper? Our custom design team can create that for you free of charge. Holding a local event for the promotion? Our digital marketing team can create a custom email and Facebook campaign to drive RSVP’s for a small fee.

Each of the seven promotions is also supported with:

• Dedicated email blasts that are customized and delivered to your database

• Promotion banners and landing pages on your local cruiseshipcenters.com website

• Printed flyers delivered to the households you choose, customized with your contact information

• Complimentary Center merchandising kits including posters, specials board inserts, tent cards and more delivered to your store.

All of this is done on your behalf.

Most promotions also have a dedicated video to get customers even more excited about the sale, whether they’re visiting your website, or attending a sales event in your Center. Check out the video below for one of our largest promotions of the year, the World Explorer Sale.

Dedicated Experts to Support You

Our franchise model is intended to take people with little or no experience in the cruise industry and help them build and grow a successful travel business. Over the 30 years we’ve been in business, we’ve learned a few things about how to execute a successful promotion, and we want to pass that knowledge and expertise on to you. We don’t expect you to know everything!

Think of us as your very own full service marketing resource. You can count on us to walk you through any booking scenario or answer any questions about the promotion and offers you may have. Our mission at Expedia CruiseShipCenters is to help our franchise owners succeed, so we’re here for you.

Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about owning a business with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our franchise opportunity here.

How Contests Drive Revenue For Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchises

Travel franchise owners benefit from our relationships with major cruise lines

How do Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners attract new customers? There are many ways, but there’s one that’s gaining traction among our franchise owners is truly fun and exciting — contests!

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Fun and effective – contests help to bolster consultants’ customer base and re-engage with existing contacts.

Contests are a great way for our franchise owners to build a database of prospective customers, especially when they’re first getting started. Thanks to our strong relationships with some of the biggest names in the travel industry, each year Expedia CruiseShipCenters partners with brands like Disney, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International for our annual and promotional contests to serve both the franchise owner and also potential customers. It’s the epitome of a win-win situation, franchisees grow and nurture their contact list while a few lucky individuals embark on the vacation experience of a lifetime!

These contests help you to add hundreds of new subscribers to your databases year round and keep our brand top of mind for travelers. Our dedicated marketing team makes contesting a breeze for our franchise owners by overseeing and promoting all contests. Print and online marketing pieces with consistent messages are prepared, along with in-store messaging. To best support franchise owners and vacation consultants, an in-depth contest guide is also available.

Our Win 1 of 5 Free Cruises Contest with Norwegian Cruise Line is on now until October 31st where five lucky winners will receive a free 7 night Caribbean cruise for two! Contest entrants can earn up to ten additional chances to win by referring their friends and family members. Last year, we received more than 200,000 entries with 80% of entrants subscribed to 1 or more of our email marketing pieces which are personalized to the local franchise. Contests like this provide amazing exposure to travelers who may not know about our services yet and allow franchisees to re-engage with their existing database.

Grow, build and nurture customer relationships

Not only do contests help us attract new contacts and email marketing subscriptions but it also allows travel agents in the Center to connect with their existing contacts and help them to enter the current contest. This point of connection strengthens the relationship and also serves as a great opportunity to check in on travel needs, update contact and marketing subscription information.

Contest entrants’ information is dispersed among our local franchises based on ZIP code to increase their databases of potential customers. Since many people also choose to subscribe to our email newsletters when they enter the contest, our travel franchise owners can keep their services top of mind when those new contacts go to book their next dream vacation.

“Our annual contest is something we look forward to every year because there’s nothing more satisfying to us than providing people with the experience of cruising,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “These contests are extremely beneficial to our franchise owners because they provide a deep well of new potential customers to reach out to long after the contest is over.”

Cruising is more popular than ever before

According to Cruise Lines International Association, 100 million people are expected to cruise in the next four years. CLIA reports that the average age of a cruise traveler is 49, with an average income of $114,000. While cruising certainly appeals to the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations, the industry is also experiencing a boom in younger travelers. According to MMGY, travel agent usage has hit a six-year high and one out of three Millennials seek the advice of a trusted travel professional for their travel arrangements. Of those who cruised in 2014, 38% had never cruised before, which bodes well for future growth of our travel franchise.

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According to Cruise Lines International Association, 75% of cruisers opted to book using a travel agent in 2015.

CLIA, in their 2015 North American Market Profile of the industry, noted 75% of cruisers opted to book their vacations using a travel agent. The thriving cruising market, as well as consumer trends, allows Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners to have viable, profitable businesses that reflect their owners’ passion for travel.

We’re growing rapidly, and so are our sales

Expedia CruiseShipCenters launched in 1987 and is one of largest sellers of cruise travel in North America. Our travel agency franchise is rapidly expanding, with more than 220 locations open or under development.

Our sales have grown an average of 20% a year over the past two decades. While the internet had a negative impact on many other retail travel businesses, we have flourished. The reason for our success is simple: cruises, while popular, are not cheap. And choosing from the myriad of available cruise options is not easy. The complicated nature of booking cruises, combined with the force of our brand name, lead an ever-growing number of people to our travel franchise locations.

“The value we add is in being thoughtful,” says Mary Beth Casey, owner of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We know what this vacation will bring to them and their families. There’s a lot of patience and hand-holding from our side. And then when our customers get off the ship, we do a follow-up: Did we meet their expectations? And where are they going to go next?”

Learn More

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our franchise opportunity here.

Supporting You Through Our Startup Process

Discover the dedicated training & support you’ll get through the process of building and launching your retail travel business

So you’ve completed your due diligence and have decided that a travel agency franchise with Expedia CruiseShipCenters is the perfect fit for you. What happens next?

In our organization, we take a great deal of pride in the startup and onboarding support that we provide our new franchise owners to make sure we set you up for success. Our team of Franchising Managers and Program Specialists are here to help you launch your business with a strong start in every aspect – from finding your perfect location and store build-out, through to recruiting and training your dreamteam of Vacation Consultants.

With a record 40 new Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations who are set to open their doors in 2016, we recognize the importance of having a strong team to help with the startup, onboarding and launch of each location. That’s why we have dedicated teams at our Corporate  Support office who are committed to providing all of the help you need to feel confident in each step of launching your new business.

Watch our Startup and Onboarding support video to meet a few members of the team that will guide you through the path to opening your Expedia CruiseShipCenters location.

Let’s explore in more detail the startup and onboarding support we provide to set our franchise owners on the path to success.

Phase 1: Startup Support

You’ll begin the first step of the startup process immediately following the signing of your Franchise Agreement. Your Franchise Development Manager will introduce you to the Startup and Onboarding team by conference call, kicking off your search for your perfect location. The Startup team will be your go-to resource to get your space ready for customers from location search and selection to the design and build out of your franchise. With the assistance of a third party real estate company, the Startup team will work with you to find the perfect location that ticks all of the boxes for great accessibility for customers and staff, strong visibility in your community, and a large enough space to accommodate a hub of activity. During this step, you’ll also receive guidance though the application process for the necessary licensing needed to operate a travel business in your community.

This process can be the longest component of your setup but the goal is to have your doors open within nine months of signing your franchise agreement. Remember, we’re in this together and our team will be there to help guide and support you every step of the way.

Path to Franchise Opening

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Phase 2: Onboarding Support

The second step of launching your new travel franchise is onboarding and recruitment. This encompasses everything to do with recruiting and training your dream team of Vacation Consultants, to managing operations and growing your business. An important step in your training will be learning the how to sell travel as a Vacation Consultant so that you can successfully train and support your future team. During your onboarding, you’ll also attend our week-long intensive franchisee training program called Cruise Management Academy at our corporate headquarters where you’ll learn Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ tools, systems and support that will help you manage your team while you grow your business. By the time you open your doors, the goal is to have at least six Vacation Consultants trained and ready to sell travel to your community.

The culmination of your efforts will be opening your doors for business and planning your Grand Opening event! From that point onward you’ll receive ongoing support from your Franchise Performance Coach and team at the Corporate Support office as you run the day to day operations of your travel business. Our goal is to set you up for success and provide ongoing coaching and support as you build and grow your Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we are committed to helping our franchise owners become exceptional leaders who can build a strong team and become the go-to cruise experts in their local community. Setting our franchise owners up for success is our purpose and we’re committed to helping you achieve your business and lifestyle goals.

Learn More

Are you ready to begin the Expedia franchise discovery process? To continue exploring the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.