Expedia CruiseShipCenters Forecasts Wave of Franchise Growth in 2017

Cruise Industry Leader Looks to Build upon Record Setting 2016

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Tustin was one of 33 new locations to open in 2016. Photo credit: Anthony Wang & the Tustin Chamber of Commerce.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Tustin, CA was one of 33 new locations to open in 2016. Photo credit: Anthony Wang & the Tustin Chamber of Commerce.

 

BELLEVUE, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The top cruise travel agency franchise in North America, Expedia CruiseShipCentersannounced a record-setting year after ending 2016 with exciting growth. The brick and mortar travel agency chain achieved over $560 million in gross bookings in 2016, with 18% year-over-year growth in fourth quarter gross bookings. The brand also opened 33 new franchise locations and welcomed 1,300 new Vacation Consultants to their network last year. Looking forward to 2017, Expedia CruiseShipCenters expects another record-setting year with 40 new franchise openings projected.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters experienced several major shifts in 2016 that provided a strong foundation for the brand to deepen and expand its roots. From the brand’s President, Matthew Eichhorst, assuming a new role with the Expedia group as the head of global cruise, to members of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters team receiving recognition at international industry events, like Christine Brown’s Rising Star award, the brand is poised to reach its goal of 500 operating locations over the next five years. At every level of leadership within the organization, members are keeping a finger on the pulse of the rapidly changing and thriving cruise industry.

“As we celebrate our 30th year in business, we’re reflecting on all that we’ve done to bring Expedia CruiseShipCenters to the forefront of the cruise industry, and how we’ve stood behind our commitment to deliver professional expertise and a fantastic service experience to each and every customer,” said Eichhorst. “The outlook on the cruise industry continues to strengthen as technology and new innovative approaches to the decades-old trend inspire generation after generation of travelers. The last year was just as impressive for the industry as it was for our brand.”

In 2016, the brand was honored to receive the following awards from cruise line partners: Celebrity Cruises’ North American Partner of the Year, Royal Caribbean International’s National Partner of the Year, Norwegian’s Franchise Partner of the Year and Carnival Cruises’ Outstanding Cruise Rookie Partner. Rounding out a strong year of accolades, the brand was also featured in Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 Franchises.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth is in part driven by the recent resurgence in the cruising industry. As noted in the recent Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report, cruises are being offered at lower prices leading to an increase in travelers booking vacations; passenger volume on cruise ships is up nine percent from one year ago. The study also estimates 25.3M passengers are expected to cruise in 2017, up from 15.8M just 10 years prior. Additionally, CLIA reports that 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships are scheduled to debut in the coming year resulting in a total investment of more than $6.8B in new vessels.

With the brand’s proven business model – affordable to start and extremely scalable – combined with its focus on providing spectacular customer service and the rapid growth of the cruise industry overall, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is looking to award 40 new franchises in 2017. The leading travel company is seeking franchisees across the United States, with particular focus on Washington, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and New York which the company has identified as key markets for development. These states, within easy driving distance of cruise departure ports, provide the ideal foundation for a new travel agency franchise.

For more information about franchise opportunities with Expedia CruiseShipCenters continue learning about our travel agency franchise opportunity here.

 

In the News: Mill Creek Franchise Owner Featured in HeraldNet

Ricardo Pruneda opened an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center in August. Expedia currently operates 233 locations in the U.S. and Canada. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Ricardo Pruneda opened an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center in August. Expedia currently operates 233 locations in the U.S. and Canada. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Expedia CruiseShipCenter franchise opens in Mill Creek

This story appeared in the January 2017 edition of HeraldNet.

Expedia, the Internet’s favorite go-to source for self-booking travel, has found a port in downtown Mill Creek for curious and intrepid travelers ready to hit the high seas with a more personalized touch.

Ricardo Pruneda opened his Expedia CruiseShipCenter in the Mill Creek Town Center at last summer.

An Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise is seen in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

An Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise is seen in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

“We were the 200th franchise to open” in North America, said Pruneda, 44. “It’s a real honor.”

The Canadian CruiseShipCenters chain was launched in 1987, and acquired by Expedia. in 2007.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters currently have 233 total locations with more than 160 in Canada and five locations in Washington.

(Expedia has only two brick-and-mortar, storefront brands: the CruiseShipCenters and the much smaller Expedia Local Expert storefronts in Hawaii and Florida.)

Pruneda has spent the past 20 years in sales and sales management.

But he wanted to own his own business. He was born in Mexico City with dual citizenship and moved to Florida as a child. His father was a plumber and built his own company.

“What a thing to achieve,” says Pruneda. “It’s always kind of been there for me.”

He moved to Seattle in 2002 to be closer to his sweetheart. They married, and now have a 5-year-old daughter. When describing his job to her, he says, “Now daddy helps other families spend time together.”

Pruneda’s location at 15415 Main St., No. 104, is currently staffed by seven agents, but he hopes to have 20 to 30 in the future.

(Pruneda declined to provide the average monthly revenue, saying its a new franchise.)

He fondly recalled visiting the Vancouver CruiseShipCenters location for interviews and a ‘Discovery Day’ – a corporate visit to help understand the culture for the Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

“It felt like the perfect fit,” he said, describing the passion his colleagues have for planning vacations for clients.

Pruneda hand-picked the location himself, and said he is grateful to the community for being friendly and welcoming. People see the signs outside, stop by, and say hello.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise model isn’t built simply on cruises. Its goal is to be a beginning-to-end travel planner.

A board listing current cruise ship vacation deals is seen at an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

A board listing current cruise vacation deals is seen at an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Although a cruise may be the “meat” of certain vacations, there are travel plans to get there — planes, trains, automobiles — things to do while away from home, and, of course, other sorts of trips that don’t ever entail getting on a ship.

As a full-service travel agency, it also offers services such as planning personal family vacations, wedding locations and honeymoons, business retreats and more.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters stores can help with overwhelming aspects of planning cruises. Travel agents can save vacationers on average more than $450 on trips and four hours of time on planning, according to the American Society of Travel Agents.

“Giving your trip planning over to another human being is the No. 1 way to feel confident that you are getting the best trip possible,” said Pruneda.

When asked what surprised him the most about his current franchise, Pruneda mentioned that he loves the passion of his clientele.

“Cruisers,” he called them, mentioning that they wear cruises — seasons, trips, lines — like badges of honor. “I love being a part of this club now.”

Click here to read this article on HeraldNet.com

 

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 retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

An Incredible Year in Review

Another Record Breaking Year for Expedia CruiseShipCenters

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters opened 34 new retail travel agency locations and added 1,200 Vacation Consultants to its network in 2016.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we’re continually working towards being the largest retail network across North America. Over the course of 2016 we have been actively expanding our brand throughout North America and providing the best tools and systems to our franchise owners to continue to grow a profitable and valuable travel business. As we enter into our 30th year in business we’re proud to share another year of records and even more excitement on the horizon.

Further Growth Coast to Coast

2016 was a record year for new Center openings for us as we opened 34 new retail travel agency locations and added 1,200 new Vacation Consultants to our ever expanding network! We’re not even close to being finished growing throughout North America as we have major growth plans to open a further 40 locations in the year ahead. In 2017, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will be coming to communities in California, Florida, New York, Texas and Utah to name a few!

We have plans for further growth across North America and have prime territories available in the United States where 75% of the population lives within driving distance of a cruise port. There’s huge potential for franchise ownership in Florida, Texas, California, Washington and New York as these states are home to 60% of North American cruisers.

Another Award Winning Year

The partnerships we continue to build and nurture with our partners is something we take a great deal of pride in and value greatly. Expedia CruiseShipCenters was ranked as a top franchise on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list and named as a top franchise opportunity by Franchise Business Review. We’re honored to also be recognized with the following awards from a few of our biggest travel partners:

Celebrity Cruises: North American Partner of the Year

Norwegian Cruise Line: 2016 Franchise Partner of the Year

Carnival Cruises: Outstanding Cruise Rookie Partner

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Cruise Sales Manager, Christine Brown, was awarded with Cruise Line International Association’s Rising Star Award.

In addition to our system-wide awards, we were thrilled to see one of our own Cruise Sales Managers in Las Vegas, Christine Brown, be honored by Cruise Lines International Association with the Rising Star Award! This award recognizes Christine’s passion for travel, strong relationships with her clients and her overall impact on the travel agent landscape overall. Congratulations Christine!

Expedia CruiseShipCenters in the News

In addition to an appearance on FOX & Friends and in Entrepreneur Magazine, Expedia CruiseShipCenters was also featured in the American Society of Travel Agents’ news-style documentary, Travel Agents Taking Off! In the film, reporter Jarret Hill highlights the continued rise of the travel agent in the film and interviews President, Matthew Eichhorst along with a visit to the Expedia CruiseShipCenters retail location in Bellevue, Washington.

2017 is the year to Open Your Expedia Franchise

There’s never been a better time to go into business with the most recognized brand in travel as CLIA expects 25.3 million passengers to cruise in 2017! In the year ahead, 26 new ships are scheduled to debut as demand for cruising has steadily increased 62% over the last ten years and as more travelers will be seeking the expert advice available from using a trusted travel agent. Over the past year we’ve seen our passengers increase by 9% with further growth anticipated for 2017.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise system is built upon a proven model designed to support franchise owners achieve their lifestyle, income and business goals. Our franchise model is designed to support individuals with little or no experience in the cruise industry and help them build and grow a successful travel business and achieve their income, lifestyle and business ownership goals. For 30 years, we’ve been dedicated to navigating spectacular vacation experiences from our 225 franchise locations. We look forward to further growing our team in 2017 and becoming the trusted cruise retail network for all travelers across North America.

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 retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters Featured in Daily Business Review

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Cruise Travel Agency Betting on Brick and Mortar

This story appeared on www.dailybusinessreview.com

At a time when retailers are shrinking brick and mortar operations, a Canadian cruise franchise is doing the opposite.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters, a full-service travel agency specializing in cruises, has plans to open 10 Florida stores over the next three to five years. At least three of those stores will be located in South Florida, said company president Matthew Eichhorst.

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“Florida is a huge cruise market,” Eichhorst said. The Sunshine State is home to two of the nation’s busiest ports, Port Miami and Port Everglades. In 2014, Florida’s ports handled 62 percent of all passenger embarkations in the U.S., with cruise activity in Miami leading the way, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that tracks the industry.

Vancouver-based Expedia CruiseShipCenters, a subsidiary of Expedia Inc., aims to double its Florida storefronts. Its target expansion plan includes five locations in the tri-county area, three locations in the greater Orlando area and three in the Tampa Bay area, in addition to an opening in Boca Raton later this year.

The expansion is part of an ambitious goal to have 500 stores in North America over the next five years. There are currently 166 in Canada and 59 in the U.S.
Eichhorst said the Expedia brand helps boost the franchise’s position within the travel agency marketplace.

“We’re generally way ahead in that space just because the smaller travel agency can’t make the same investment on all the tools” and technology the company uses, he said.

The stores are generally 800 to 1,000 square feet in size, while the largest locations may reach up to 2,000 square feet. Each store is operated by about 25 agents.

Travel agent usage hit a six-year high in 2016, with a third of millennial travelers reportedly booking trips through an agent, according to a recent study by MMGY Global. Other studies show that over 70 percent of cruises are actually booked through an agent rather than online—a rosy statistic for cruise travel agencies operating in a dot-com era.

“Having a storefront and customer service is a big advantage when people don’t have time to sift through the internet to plan a vacation, especially if they are looking for something that is tailored to them,” said Jennifer White, who operates a franchise store in Fort Lauderdale.

“I like to think it’s the complexity of the product itself,” Eichhorst said, adding that amenities and destinations differ greatly among the numerous ship offerings. “We strongly believe that Florida’s thriving cruise market combined with passionate franchisees has great potential to bring continued success to our growing brand.”

Click here to read this article on dailybusinessreview.com

 

Saluting Our Veterans

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Offers $5,800 Franchise Discount For Veterans & First Responders

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters is proud to introduce a new program offering Veterans and First Responders a $5,800 discount on our initial franchise fee!

We are seeking people with an entrepreneurial spirit and a love of travel to open Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise locations in their communities. Veterans and first responders are a great fit for our model since they have the skill set that is necessary to run and manage a streamlined and efficient business. Plus, they have the drive to translate our tested system into a successful business. Learn more about how to take advantage of our $5,800 discount here.

Q&A with Larry & Chris Dettmer  |  United States Air Force Veterans

Larry and Chris Dettmer, Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owners in Florence, KY, are just one example of Veterans who have been putting our proven model to work for them in their community since they opened their doors in 2014. Here’s what they had to say about their experience so far.

testimonial3What made you decide to buy a franchise?
Chris and I met in the Air Force – I was an Inventory Management Specialist and she was a Security Police Shift Commander. After working nearly 20 years in insurance sales and sales management and with both of our kids raised, we had an opportunity to separate from the corporate world and fulfill our dream owning our own business. We felt it was the perfect time to take a chance on something that would allow us to control our future.

Why did you choose an Expedia franchise?
When Chris and I decided to start our own business it didn’t take long to decide on Expedia CruiseShipCenters. We both have a deep passion for travel and were familiar with booking our trips through Expedia. So the opportunity to start a business with the most recognized name in travel was very appealing. Visiting the corporate offices in Vancouver convinced us that Expedia CruiseShipCenters was the company for us. Their proven business model combined with the corporate and field support have given us the tools we need to build a successful business. We’ve been open for almost 2 years and our commitment to executing the business plan has resulted in our Center hitting the expected growth benchmarks. The future is bright and we are very excited to part of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters brand.

How has your military training helped with running your business?
To serve and protect our country was a tremendous honor. The military taught us discipline and commitment for the purpose of making a difference. Being a successful Franchise Partner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters requires the same skill set and passion for making a difference for travelers in our local community.

What advice do you have for military vets and first responders who might be considering a franchise?
Expedia CruiseShipCenters offers an exciting opportunity for anyone with service experience. Just like the military, Expedia CruiseShipCenters relies on effective planning and precision execution. As an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Partner, you will be given all the tools and support to successfully grow your business and your sales team.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
We are both really excited about the future. By the end of our 5th year, it is our goal to have a team of 40+ Vacation Consultants with annual sales exceeding the suggested benchmarks. We also want to eventually have full time Office Manager, which will allow us more time for personal travel.

Are you a Veteran or First Responder?

If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams by applying your strong leadership, dedication and service in a travel agency franchise, Expedia CruiseShipCenters could be a great fit. Working as your own boss, you’ll serve travelers in your local community by navigating spectacular vacation experiences every day. Plus, you’ll save $5,800 on our initial franchise fee!

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about 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.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Announces Expansion Plans for Florida

Leading Travel Franchise Seeks to Add 10 New Locations in the Sunshine State Over Coming Years

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KEY WEST, Fla.– (BUSINESS WIRE) –Announcing targeted expansion, Expedia CruiseShipCenters unveiled a plan to bring additional travel franchise locations to Florida. Joining 10 locations already operating in the state, the leading travel franchise brand plans to add at least 10 more locations throughout Fort Lauderdale, Miami, greater Orlando and the Tampa Bay area over the next three to five years.

Folded into an overall growth vision for the brand, the new Florida locations are key to Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ goal to reach the 500 location milestone in North America over the next five years. Florida’s expansion is building off of the success and efforts of local franchisees like Jennifer and Kevin White in Imperial Point. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is working towards its five year growth plan by targeting areas with thriving travel industries to develop its strong network of franchise owners. The brand’s target expansion plans include five locations in the Miami metropolitan area, three locations in the greater Orlando area and three in the Tampa Bay area, in addition to an opening in Boca Raton later this year.

“Florida has been a great market for Expedia CruiseShipCenters and has shown our franchisees a lot of success. Within the next few years, we plan to double our presence in the state by working with local entrepreneurs to bring our growing brand to their communities,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “We strongly believe that Florida’s thriving cruise market combined with passionate franchisees has great potential to bring continued success to our growing brand.”

The Sunshine State is home to two of the nation’s busiest cruise ports, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, as well as three other terminals. With nearly 80 ships and 8.6 million cruisers being processed in Fort Lauderdale and Miami each year, Florida is a hub of travel lovers and consumers creating ideal demographics for Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

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. According to Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that conducts continual analysis of the industry, the demand for cruising has increased 68 percent in the last ten years. The association also points out that the U.S. economic impact of the cruise industry is larger than ever — at $42 billion annually. Cruise lines have responded to that growth by commissioning the construction of more than 65 new ships that are on pace to set sail over the next five years.

With over 225 retail locations already open or under development, the Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ franchise network is rapidly expanding. The Whites are key examples of the varied backgrounds the brand’s franchisees come from. Prior to opening an Expedia CruiseShipCenters location, Jennifer taught special education in Broward County for 13 years, while Kevin worked in sales at a charter airline, Miami Air. They attribute their success to building relationships with local travelers and creating ‘Customers For Life.’

“We wanted a career change that combined our love for travel with the challenge of taking on an entrepreneurial role. We came across Expedia CruiseShipCenters while looking for a new business opportunities and loved the support we receive from corporate,” said Imperial Point, Florida franchisee Jennifer White. “With a well-known brand like Expedia, we appreciated the business and marketing plans that were already in place as well as the fact that we are not a dot-com. Having a store front and customer service is a big advantage when people don’t have time to sift through the internet to plan a vacation—especially if they are looking for something that is tailored to them.”

On track to open 36 new locations by the end of this year, Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to provide business opportunities for driven team leaders like the Whites who want to build income, wealth and equity in a retail business they are passionate about. To continue learning about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, inquire below or continue learning here.

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters Agent Featured in Vegas Inc.

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Ready for a cruise? Travel agent offers pro tips

This story appeared in the October 2016 issue of Vegas Inc

Christine Brown, cruise sales manager for Expedia CruiseShipCenters, recently won the Rising Star award, presented by the Cruise Lines International Association. She beat out travel agents from all over the cruise industry for the recognition. “Winning this award speaks first and foremost to my passion for travel, but also to my relationships with my clients,” she said, adding that developing close relationships with clients enables her to “get to the heart of what they want to see and do in the world.”

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What are the benefits of having a travel agent?

There’s a misconception that travel agents are just human booking engines, when really the role holds so much more than just securing the itinerary. The true value of travel agents is thinking of them as personal travel concierges — someone who is at all times an advocate for their client.

Some people are comfortable booking online, and that’s OK. For many travelers, though, a trip is a huge investment and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A travel agent can navigate the intricate ins and outs and tailor to specific wants and needs of the client.

Where do you see Expedia CruiseShipCenters going in the next five years?

The two Las Vegas locations will focus on getting the brand name out there in the community, letting people know the value and expertise we bring as travel consultants affiliated with a big brand. We are constantly recruiting more agents to our team and growing our client base. There may even be another Las Vegas location at some point to help navigate spectacular vacation experiences for travelers in the area.

How has the travel industry changed over the past 10 years?

Cruising is becoming more and more popular, and the individual cruise lines are building more and more new ships to meet demand. Data from CLIA say the industry has grown 68 percent in the past 10 years, which is incredible. I read that every shipyard in the world is in use right now, so the industry literally cannot grow any faster.

Cruising as a vacation offers tremendous value in that meals, entertainment and your accommodations are built into the base cruise fare. It allows people to plan one trip that visits multiple places in a reasonable amount of time, while only unpacking once.

What is the most valuable advice you have for first-time cruisers?

There are so many tips, but here are a few to keep in mind:

  1. Let your agent know your vacation expectations. What do you think your cruise will be like, look like, where it will go. This will help them match you with the right cruise line and itinerary.
  2. On the day of embarkation, pack a carry-on with cruise boarding passes, passports, any prescription medications, a change of clothes and bathing suit.
  3. Take time to explore the ship when you first get on and closely plan your days with the nightly newsletter placed in your stateroom (bring a highlighter to mark it).
  4. You don’t have to dress up, or bring a tux or formal wear. Cruise lines are doing away with their “formal nights” and replacing them with casual elegance or country club casual.
  5. When the ship is in port, there are some great deals that can be found at the onboard spa.
  6. Insure your trip. A vacation can be a big investment. Protect it from medical issues, delays, interruptions, etc.

Where is your favorite place to visit? What place is still on your bucket list?

So far, my favorite trip has been Australia: Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef. You can’t go wrong when you visit iconic places, famous beaches and a natural wonder of the world. I also love Paris. I’ve always been obsessed with everything about it — the art, architecture, food and fashion.

For a long time, my No. 1 bucket-list vacation was Vietnam and Cambodia. After that I’m eyeing the Galápagos, Maldives, Seychelles, Iceland and more of Asia.

Whom do you admire?

My parents have always been an inspiration to me. They always taught me that if there was the opportunity to do something unique or travel somewhere new, to jump at the chance.

Walt Disney had a vision and made it come to life. Not only does his company tell stories like no other, but the level of service and how Disney treats clients is second to none. I am always studying Disney’s best practices.

Marie Forleo is an inspiring female entrepreneur. Ever since her “Everything is Figureoutable” speech on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday, I’ve been following what she teaches, her thoughts, ideas and lessons, and incorporating them into my daily routine. Her words have really changed me as a businesswoman.

What is something that people might not know about you?

When I was younger, I was an active artist, and I often made paintings of the places where I had traveled. The coolest thing was when someone looking at my painting had been to that place. The feeling was really awesome, knowing I could transport someone back to a special time and place.

I think my artistic background has played a key role in me being an agent. Travel can be a super creative thing and requires a lot of planning. It’s my outlet and my art.

What is the best business advice you’ve received?

Fortunately I’ve had no end to talented business coaches and mentors who have imparted wonderful advice to me. The most memorable piece of advice I’ve received is: “Organize yourself and your business the right way; allocate times during your day and week for certain tasks.”

In a world where everyone has their phone on 24/7, I choose to unplug even if it’s for a short amount of time, and make sure to block time off during my day for myself. This allows me to breathe, de-stress, clear my head and shift my energy to carry me through the rest of my day.


Click here
to read this article on VegasInc.com 

 

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters featured in Travel Agents Taking Off Film

News-style film highlights increased use and value of booking with a travel agent

The American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) debuted it’s news-style film, Travel Agents Taking off featuring Expedia CruiseShipCenters today at the ASTA Annual Convention in Reno, NV. Reporter Jarret Hill highlights the continued rise of travel professionals – with usage at a six-year high in 2016 according to MMGY and visits the Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Bellevue, WA retail travel agency location.

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.

In the News: Tampa Franchise Owners Featured in Entrepreneur

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 Travel Agencies Are Seeing a Boom — and This Franchise Knows Why

This story appeared in the July 2016 issue of Entrepreneur

The travel industry’s conventional wisdom has gone like this: As sites like Travelocity and Kayak made it easier for people to book vacations themselves, travel agencies withered and died. But that’s not actually true. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, after a steep drop-off in the 1990s, revenues from travel agencies have more than doubled since 2002 — which is why people like Rob Steinfeld and Dean Hanson have been so eager to set up a franchise and join this unexpected boom. Last year, the married couple set up an Expedia CruiseShipCenters unit in Tampa. The bricks-and-mortar offshoot of the website specializes in cruises and is fueled mainly by baby-boomer customers. Business is growing month by month, and Steinfeld thinks they can break Expedia’s sales record for a first-year franchisee.

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Why a cruise agency? What is the appeal?

Rob: Dean and I met on a cruise way back in 1995, and it’s always been a big passion of ours. We’ve cruised at least once every year since then. And because they’ve been special for us personally, we decided to expand that to make them part of our professional life as well.

Dean: We feel there’s a great value in this particular travel niche. We’ve got skin in the game and truly believe in the product.

How is it working together as a married couple?

Rob: It’s good that Dean and I had been in business together before. We had a corporate headhunting business a few years ago and didn’t do so well in a shared space. This time we have clearly defined roles: Dean’s passion is behind the scenes, and mine is growing sales. I’m here every day, and he takes care of things like insurance and pest control from home, and fixes things when they’re broken. When I come home at the end of the day and we have dinner, we actually have different things to talk about!

How have you been able to grow your business so quickly?

Dean: We’re out there more than anyone else in town. We’re kind of comarketing ourselves. Yes, we’re Expedia, but we really want to market ourselves as the local hometown agency.

Rob: 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.

You must be cleaning up on the free cruises and trips for travel agents.

Rob: The perks are there; we just haven’t had time to go anywhere!

Dean: It’s like that saying about the cobbler’s kids not having any shoes.

Click here to read this article on Entrepreneur.com

After a Banner Year for the Cruise Industry, Expedia CruiseShipCenters Ramps Up for Explosive Growth in 2016

As the cruise industry continues its phenomenal rise, the time to open your Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise is now

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters has big plans for expansion in the United States and other nations around the world.

When cruisers were first counted in 1980, they numbered only 1 million. Today, cruising is a global phenomenon — spurred by decades of innovation and cultural awareness. Thirty-five years after the first annual cruising population was tallied, Cruise Lines International Association reports that 23 million people will have cruised in 2015. Better still, CLIA reports that in 2016, the number of cruisers will grow by nearly 1 million more.

As the cruise 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 come online by 2022, expanding the capacity for cruisers by more than 9 million overall. The influx of new ships will likewise extend what the cruise industry can offer to its customers, in terms of luxurious comfort and new destinations and adventurous day trips.

How the cruise industry is evolving

With nearly 24 million expected to cruise in 2016, the lifestyle is no longer dominated by seniors. CLIA’s recently published “2016 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook” speaks volumes about the universal appeal of the cruising lifestyle. The vastly important Millennial demographic is cruising more than seniors for the first time, which speaks to the long-term growth potential of the industry. The good news doesn’t stop there: All demographics are cruising in larger numbers.

Cruise Lines International Association reports that 70% of travelers prefer to book their cruises through a travel agent.

Cruise Lines International Association reports that 70% of travelers prefer to book their cruises through a travel agent.

And why wouldn’t they? With more ships going to more destinations than ever before, cruisers can customize trips to create their dream vacations. Customer segments are likewise blurring: contemporary cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International are now offering luxury accommodation as a premium experience, while luxury lines such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Crystal Cruises have begun offering family packages.

The trends reported above signify that the golden age of cruising is yet to come. As the cruising population continues to grow by the millions, Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise is the only brand with the name recognition, the proven business model and the industry relationships to capture a significant share of a booming industry. That’s why our sales have been growing at an average rate of 20% each year for more than two decades.

The time is now to launch your Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise

The seemingly limitless vacation options that cruisers have to choose from has made expert travel franchise owners a hot commodity. In fact, CLIA 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 cruising expand.

Given that the wide majority of cruisers prefer to book their cruises with a travel agent, it is of added importance that our trusted brand is visible in their communities. This is why our franchise owners operate out of brick-and mortar-retail locations. Our retail locations give us increased visibility with our customers and also provide an office environment where we can host events — and where our independent Vacation Consultants can share knowledge and work together.

“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, who has helped us achieve double-digit sales growth since 2003. “Also, Expedia has more than 200,000 hotels in their system and access to a ton of air travel. We bolt that supply and data into a traditional travel agency franchise, and it provides a huge advantage.”

The new year will find our brand rapidly expanding across America

As large as the cruising industry has become, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has grown at three times the rate of the cruise industry overall, enjoying an average sales growth of 20% annually since we launched our brand more than two decades ago.

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters generates 10 times the average sales of competing franchise Cruise Planners, and 15 times more average sales (sales per unit) than Cruise One, according to the 2015 Power List in Travel Weekly. There are a lot of reasons for those figures, but perhaps the biggest is our business model — Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchisees sign up to become travel sales leaders, not travel agents.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has more than 200 travel franchise locations open or under development in North America and has plans to open dozens more travel franchise locations over the next three years.

“Our vision is to be the largest cruise retail network in North America who is the trusted brand for cruisers in their communities,” Matthew says. “In the year 2020, I see 500 Expedia CruiseShipCenters, with 300 of those stores in the United States.”

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters family franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.