Celebrating 30 Years of Success

2017 marks Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ 30th anniversary. Take a look back at the making of this incredible success story.

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This month, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is celebrating an incredible 30 years in business. To say we’ve seen a few changes in the industry since we started out in 1987 is an understatement!

We’ve seen a plethora of new cruise lines enter the market, each with their own unique take on a vacation at sea. We’ve seen the popularity of river cruising rise as travelers embraced this new way to see the world. We’ve seen cruise ship size eclipse previous capacity and onboard innovations evolve beyond our wildest dreams.  We’ve seen travelers change the way they research cruises and travel agents change the way they book cruises with efficiencies enabled by technology.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owners aboard their annual National Conference cruise

We’ve seen our company change too as we’ve expanded our network across Canada and into the United States, now with over 4,700 Vacation Consultants and 235 franchise locations. We’ve been welcomed into the Expedia, Inc. family of brands, giving our franchisees a globally recognized brand on their door, and our customers access to every vacation option over land or sea, at exceptional prices.

But what has stayed constant throughout our 30-year history, is our unwavering commitment to our customers and our franchise owners.

Take a walk down memory lane with us in the video below!

We’re committed to our franchise owners

We’re committed to providing a powerful brand that instills confidence in their customers, builds credibility in their business and gives them every advantage over their competitors.

We’re committed to providing outstanding support – whenever and however they need it – to help them become incredible team leaders, savvy marketers and smart business owners.

We’re committed to our mission to empower our franchisees with a proven system to build a profitable and valuable business – with a franchise model that allows them to accomplish their dreams.

We’re committed to our customers

We’re committed to providing that personal touch – a professional Consultant who can find out exactly what they want from their vacation and confidently navigate the best path to get there.

We’re committed to providing them with options for connecting with us – whether that’s online, by email, over the phone, or in store for a face-to-face meeting.

We’re committed to going above and beyond – whether that means securing an exclusive onboard cash credit or delivering their passport to the airport when they’ve forgotten it at home (true story!).

Our service model has stood the test of time

Media headlines say the travel agent is making a comeback as new research shows travel agent usage reaching a six-year high in 2016 according to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers. It’s no surprise when customers say their agent saves them an average $452 per trip, and four hours in travel planning time (ASTA).

But at Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we know that this isn’t a comeback. Our Franchise Partners and Vacation Consultants have been here all along providing travelers with unparalleled service and unbeatable value for the past 30 years. It’s the reason our sales have grown at an average rate of 11% each year for over two decades.

A future as bright as our past

With 83 new ocean cruise ships currently on order, we’re beyond excited about what’s to come for the cruise industry and our business. As our franchise owners continue to bring the Expedia CruiseShipCenters brand to new communities across North America, we get the privilege of sharing our passion for cruising and dedication to service with more and more travelers.

No matter what the next 30 years brings, we’ll always be here delivering on our promise to navigate spectacular vacation experiences and our mission to empower our Franchise Partners with a proven system to build a profitable and valuable business.

Build your success on ours

Want to become a part of our incredible success story? Expedia CruiseShipCenters is looking for passionate travelers to join our team as franchise owners across North America. 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.

Great Leaders Make Great Franchise Owners

How Our Franchise Owners fill several leadership roles as they set their team and business up for success

As a franchise owner your role will include supporting and leading your team.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, there’s a key characteristic we actively look for in our franchisees – leadership. While a passion for travel in this business is important, it actually plays a smaller role in the realm of the franchise owner than you might think. As a travel agency Franchise Owner, the customer you’re devoted to serving is your team of Vacation Consultants (who sell travel on behalf of your retail travel agency) and your product is providing them with the tools and support to best serve their clients.

The role of a travel Franchise Owner is multifaceted; it is as dynamic and challenging (in the best ways) as it is rewarding. Here are three different ways you’ll put your leadership skills to work as you’re building a successful travel agency.

Recruiter and Trainer

Franchise Partners support Vacation Consultants with ongoing training and support.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Partners approach recruitment and onboarding their team of Vacation Consultants as an ongoing commitment and opportunity to continuously grow their team and business. You’ll find your dream team out in your community – they’re typically warm and energetic individuals who love helping others.

When it comes to training your team, we’re here to guide you through our training system designed to help people with little to no travel industry experience learn how to sell custom vacation packages. We help you to recruit and train your team in many ways from a dedicated recruitment website for your location to regular webinars and events to help your team boost their sales. The better equipped and supported your team is, the better the service their clients will receive and the higher the sales potential of your business. After all, we’re only as strong as the team we build and creating an environment for your team of independent consultants to flourish will be the most important contributor to your success.

Mentor and Coach

As part of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters system, you have access to our powerful proprietary software to help remain up-to-date on your location’s and team’s performance. This is a great tool for identifying opportunities for growth within your team as well as keeping your business on track to achieve your franchise goals. Teaching your team how to leverage the tactics of our proprietary sales methodology, The Navigators Approach, will also help them to build strong long-term relationships with their customers with our tools and programs in place. We provide ongoing sales leadership training for Franchise Partners to help you coach your Consultants to sales success. Coaching your travel consultants about our promotions as well as hosting events at your location will help your team excel and offer their clients the best products available along with advice they can trust.

#1 Fan and Cheerleader

As a Franchise Partner, you are your Vacation Consultants’ biggest fan.

You are your Vacation Consultants’ biggest fan! Keeping your team motivated and feeling recognized and appreciated is important for their continued success. Making sales alone shouldn’t mean recognition – the path to being a successful salesperson takes time, on-the-job experience and a desire to improve skills. Everything from a Consultant providing exceptional service to their customers, to making connections with potential customers at events is deserving of recognition. We have a fantastic recognition program called Navigators Club that presents a great opportunity for Franchise Partners to continuously set goals for and applaud their team of both new and experienced Consultants. By recognizing the best practices of your Consultants, you establish a benchmark for your team to strive for and establish your location as the best source for all of your community’s travel needs!

As a Franchise Partner you’ll be dedicated to the ongoing success of your location as you manage the day-to-day operations of your retail business; you’ll also recruit and support your team of independent Vacation Consultants and create an engaging environment. It’s a busy job starting a travel agency that is incredibly rewarding. At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we’re committed to helping our franchisees become exceptional leaders who build a strong team to help to set them up on the path to a successful business.

Learn More

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a retail travel agency franchise backed by the largest travel brand in the world with more than 235 retail locations open or under development across North America. As the cruise industry grows larger each year, customers are seeking the expert advice of a travel agent who can create customized travel plans and provide personal service.

When you’re starting a travel agency; recruiting, leading and supporting your team will be the foundation of your successful business. If you have the drive and the leadership skills to take on this exciting challenge, we invite you to continue exploring the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity by downloading our Free Franchise Report by completing the form below.

 

5 Benefits of Starting a Franchise vs. an Independent Business

Why the franchise industry will reach $710 Billion in 2017 and how you can be a part of it with Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

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At the recent annual convention held by the International Franchise Association, attendees across most industries were very optimistic. That’s because franchising as a whole is on the rise. In fact, according to a report by IHS Economics, the overall economic output of the franchise industry is expected to increase 5.3% to $710 billion in 2017.

So why are more and more North Americans turning to franchising as a way to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams and what are the benefits of joining a franchise vs. starting an independent business?

Here are 5 things you can expect when you join a reputable, well-established franchise like Expedia CruiseShipCenters:

1. A recognizable brand, from day one

First and foremost, having an immediately recognizable brand that inspires trust and conveys value to consumers the day you open the doors of your business is a huge advantage for franchisees that join established companies. Building a brand is hard. It takes time, effort and usually a lot of money to make yourself known, not only as a place that sells X, but also as a good place to buy X in your community. When you can skip that step and immediately focus your efforts on building a base of loyal customers, your ramp up phase is that much faster.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner from Orange County, Chris Meyer, describes how important having the Expedia brand has been to building his travel agency franchise:

“I think the Expedia name is huge. It is a household name that has instant credibility and instant familiarity,” Chris says. “And also the instant thought: ‘Oh, they are big — they must have good prices.’ That is a big differentiator. Most of our competitors don’t have a big brand for people to connect with.”

2. The power to negotiate with the big industry players

It’s not rocket science to figure out that 100 stores selling the same product have more buying power than one store selling that product. So unless you’re selling artisanal ketchup that consumers are willing to pay a premium for, you’re going to have a hard time competing on price as an independent business. As part of a large franchise network, however, you get to leverage the industry relationships that your franchisor has already established on your behalf.

In the cruise industry, our negotiating power benefits Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ 230+ franchise locations and their customers in a number of ways. Not only does our massive sales volume for cruises ensure our pricing is always competitive, we can also negotiate top-tier commissions for our franchisees and their agents which ultimately boosts the profitability of our stores. Our Senior Vice President of Franchise & Supplier Performance, Geraldine Ree, explains why this is especially important to for new franchisees in the video below.

Since 75% of all cruises are still sold through travel agents according to Cruise Lines International Association, our cruise line partners rely on us to fill their ships which often allows us to negotiate exclusive extras for our clients, like onboard cash credits, free upgrades, or other amenities, that customers can’t get booking elsewhere – not even online. When our franchisees can offer competitive pricing, exclusive extras and incredible service, there’s no reason for clients to book travel anywhere else.

3. Peace of mind

Starting your own business takes a huge leap of faith. Making that jump into the unknown world of self-employment can be scary, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. One of the benefits of starting a franchise is that you own your own business, but you’re not stepping into completely unknown territory. You get the perks of being your own boss, doing something you love, and controlling your own destiny, but with the comfort of knowing that there’s a proven system behind you. A franchise provides a how-to guide based on years of experience that shows you exactly how to make your business successful.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we’ve been continuously improving our system and the way we operate our stores since we started in 1987. That’s 30 years of experience that has helped us become the one of North America’s leading sellers of cruise vacations and a top ranked franchise year after year. But we’re not finished yet. We believe we can always be better; for our customers, for our agents, and for our franchisees who depend on us to deliver on our mission: To empower our franchisees with a proven system to grow a profitable and valuable business.

4. A built-in support network

One of the biggest benefits of joining a franchise that often comes as a surprise is the built in support network you get from your fellow franchise owners. Having a group of people to turn to who have been in your shoes is an incredible resource for a franchisee, whether you’re just starting out and want advice on recruiting your dream team, or have been in business for years and are looking for fresh new ideas to reach travelers in your community. When you start an independent business, that support network is either non-existent, or much more difficult to find.

Our culture of Stronger.Together at Expedia CruiseShipCenters is ingrained in our core values and our franchisees take it to heart. They share best practices with one another and support each other in achieving their business goals. Of course there’s a healthy spirit of competition among them, but at the end of the day, each franchisee’s success contributes to the success of our overall brand. We’re all in this together.

5. An asset to sell when the time comes

If you’ve built a successful business, it will be worth something when you decide to sell it. But how much it’s worth and how easily you can sell it may vary greatly between independent and franchised businesses. The fact that your business also comes with all the other franchise benefits we mentioned will make it an even more attractive asset to prospective buyers. They’re not only buying a business, they’re buying an established system and brand that comes with initial training and ongoing support. Another benefit of joining a franchise is that your transition out of the business much easier because the operations manual is already written and the start-up team is already in place to get the new owner of your store up and running.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, our goal is to not only help our franchisees generate income, but also to help them build long-term equity in their business. All of our support is aimed at increasing their profitability and building value in their business so that when the time comes to sell, they should be getting a solid return on their initial investment. Plus, our dedicated Refranchising team at Expedia CruiseShipCenters is there to guide franchisees through the process of selling their business when the time comes.

Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

The benefits of starting a franchise are numerous and extend far beyond the five we mentioned. But of course, not all franchise opportunities are equal and you should make sure to conduct your due diligence before making a decision. 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 retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Rides Wave of Record Growth

2016 best year ever for franchise openings

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters is on pace for a record year as we stay on target to open nearly 40 locations in 2016. Consumer recognition for the Expedia CruiseShipCenters brand is growing, and more people are cruising – both strong contributing factors to our banner year of travel agency franchise openings.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters expands from coast to coast

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters is expanding nationwide, with new locations now open across North America that span from from the West Coast to the East Coast. Meet some of our newest owners and hear what they have to say about their experience so far as part the Expedia CruiseShipCenters team during this exciting growth period for the cruise industry and our brand.

Rob Steinfeld and Dean Hanson – Tampa Bay, FL

“We live the brand. People know us as ‘the cruise guys.’ There’s never a time we’re not wearing an Expedia shirt or an awesome T-shirt that says, ‘Ask Me How To Win A Cruise!’ Down the line, when someone starts to get ready for a vacation, we want them to think of us first. No one comes in here without being signed up on our database,” says Tampa Bay, Florida, franchise owner Rob Steinfeld. Rob runs his Expedia CruiseShipCenters store with his life partner, Dean Hanson. The franchisees have been featured by several news outlets, including the the July 2016 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, the Tampa Bay Business Journal and local cable news network Bay News 9.

Peggy Mehos and Brianna Grewal – South East Edmonton, AB

Edmonton, Alberta, franchise owners Brianna Grewal and Peggy Mehos, a mother and daughter duo, were looking for a business venture with flexibility. Brianna had a background in Human Resources, and Peggy had owned a dental laboratory. Having traveled on their own or as a family to many beautiful destinations, whether it was taking fabulous cruises, relaxing annually in Hawaii or backpacking across Europe, traveling has been a staple for both of them. With that passion, Peggy gained interest in a travel business and started doing her research.

Eventually mentioning it to Brianna, they decided to partner up. “Having the Expedia brand backing the business made the decision to become franchisees that much easier, as they are a trusted brand in travel. We are excited to help others experience these amazing getaways, and we want their customers to go on spectacular vacations and retain memories for a lifetime,” says Brianna.

Rob Henderson – Tustin, CA

Tustin, California, franchise owner Rob Henderson, who opened his Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in April, is excited about helping the residents of his community plan their dream vacations. “Cruising is really a popular option for anyone looking for a spectacular vacation, and our vacation consultants at Expedia CruiseShipCenters can help everyone navigate through all the options out there to put together a perfectly suited package – from finding the right ship to choosing the best destinations and planning the best excursions. Currently there is a huge investment going into cruise ships globally. In fact, every shipyard in the world is booked out through 2021. The ships are better than ever, with fantastic new designs and amenities, and more people are cruising now than ever before because it is a great way to use your holiday time to not only explore the world, but to do so in comfort.”

Barry and Tina Gallant – Fredericton, NB

Fredericton franchisees and high school sweethearts Tina and Barry Gallant have been married for 25 years. Tina has spent most of her career with New Brunswick Power Corporation where she was an Administrative Supervisor, responsible for administration staff around the Province. Barry’s career in engineering as an independent contractor has taken him throughout Canada. While their careers were successful, there was no passion. They wanted to do something that they loved that would allow them to work toward their own goals. They also wanted to set an example for their three children that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

Barry and Tina had talked in the past about owning a business, but it never seemed to be the right fit or the right time. However, when they saw an ad about owning an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise and began investigating the opportunity, the pieces fell into place. From the beginning, they felt like they belonged with the Expedia CruiseShipCenters family. This became even more apparent once they met the corporate team in Vancouver and in the time since, from signing their lease to opening day. “They care about you and your success is their success. We feel blessed and proud to be part of such a wonderful caring organization.

We can hardly wait to see what the next few years have in store for us! We know it is going to be an awesome journey!”

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ 4,300+ Vacation Consultants across North America provide trustworthy travel advice and personalized service to the millions of people planning to cruise every year. The cruise industry is booming with 24 million people are expected to set sail in 2016 alone, according to the 2016 CLIA State of the Industry report. Cruise lines are also expanding to meet the growing demand for cruise vacations. The cruise industry is investing $6.5 billion in 2016 with 65 new ocean ships planned to debut over the next five years to meet the growing demand from travelers who want to spend their vacation dollars on cruising.

Running an Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a perfect fit for entrepreneurs with a passion for travel. It’s also a rewarding venture; our owners are in the business of helping people plan their dream vacations.

New franchisee support resources help owners succeed

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters we are constantly investing in new support resources to help our franchisees succeed in key areas of the business, including a new resources dedicated to supporting our franchise owners with recruitment of high-quality travel experts to join their local teams.

We are committed to setting our new franchise owners up for success. Our startup team is your go-to resource to get your location ready for customers, including assistance with site selection and guidance as you design and build out your space. We also help with the entire hiring process, from onboarding to recruitment, as you assemble the perfect team of vacation experts.

You will also attend an intensive, week-long franchisee training program called Cruise Management Academy held at our corporate headquarters. By the time you open the doors to your franchise the goal is for you to have at least six Vacation Consultants on your team ready to sell travel packages.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is gearing up for expansion

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has more than 220 travel franchise locations open or under development in North America, and plan to reach 500 locations by 2020.

With our course charted for explosive growth, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will continue to be a leader in a vibrant industry. Expedia CruiseShipCenters has grown at three times the rate of the cruise industry overall, enjoying an average sales growth of 20% annually for more than two decades.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

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 the Expedia franchise here.