At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, it is our vision is to be the largest cruise retail network that is the trusted brand for cruisers across North America. To accomplish this, we have been busy rapidly expanding our franchise locations across the continent and empowering our franchisees with the tools they need to grow a profitable and valuable travel business. Today, we are happy to report that business is booming and we see even more potential for the year ahead!
Here are a few reasons we believe 2015 will be our best year yet:
We’re Expanding from Coast to Coast
2014 marked a record year of growth for us. We awarded 30 new retail travel franchises and added over 1000 new Vacation Consultants to our growing network. You will see brand new Expedia CruiseShipCenters retail locations popping up in California, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Louisiana, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Illinois, Newfoundland and Quebec. And we’re not stopping there! Our growth plans include the awarding of 40 more franchises in 2015 and another 50 in 2016.
With prime territories available across the United States and 75% of the population within driving distance of a cruise port, our new Franchise Partners are getting in on the ground floor of an incredible travel franchise opportunity! While we are expanding throughout all of North America, we are focusing on Florida, Texas, California, Washington and New York as particularly attractive target markets for franchise development. With 70% of North American cruise guests coming from these states, we see enormous potential for Franchise Partners in those markets who have a passion for travel, and building a profitable business.
All Aboard! Welcoming NYPD Officers and IT Specialists to Our Team
In addition, our Expedia family grew with a new force of fervent Franchise Partners from a wide variety of backgrounds, including a 25 year veteran of the New York Police Department, an IT specialist and an Operations and Logistics Officer from the U.S. Armed Forces, to name a few.
Joyce Mariner – Opening Soon in Merrick, NY
After a fulfilling 25 year career with the New York Police Department, Joyce took on the role as a domestic engineer. She soon decided to switch gears to embark on a rewarding and adventurous career as an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Partner. Joyce is thrilled to be opening the first Expedia CruiseShipCenters retail travel franchise in New York.
Michael Hart – Now Open in Point Loma, CA
Michael has a degree in Electrical Engineering and worked as an IT specialist in San Diego. When he learned that his company would be shutting down, both he and his wife researched many franchise opportunities to determine what would be the best business venture for them. As avid travelers, they soon decided that their skills, interests and abilities would dovetail perfectly with an Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise.
Darwin and Becky Harting – Opening Soon in New Albany, TX
Darwin worked with the armed forces supporting ground troops across the nation. His wife, Becky, came from a sales background and felt that supporting a team of agents is exactly the kind of business that they could both pursue together as a second career. Their love of travel drew them to Expedia CruiseShipCenters and the rest is history!
At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we welcome a diverse range of people to our organization because no previous travel industry experience is needed to own an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise. Our dedicated support during the start-up phase and exclusive training will help you become an exceptional leader and coach to your sales team. All you need is the drive to be an active full-time owner and of course, an insatiable passion for travel.
Soaring Sales in 2014
In addition to achieving record franchise growth in 2014, we also experienced remarkable sales growth in 2014, increasing our booked sales by 16% over the previous year! Our new locations are helping to bump up that number, but we also attribute our sales boost to our relentless focus on helping each and every one of our franchise locations increase their individual sales. In 2014, we saw a substantial increase in average first year franchise sales, which has nearly doubled over the past two years!
As part of our mission to help our franchisees be profitable and build equity in their business, we help them plan and set goals for sales, team size and database growth in their first, second, third year, and beyond. We’ve noticed that the individual support we provide new Franchise Partners in planning and executing these business goals in the crucial first few years is translating into improved sales performance early on.
For our mature franchisees, the opportunity to continuously grow their business never ends. Our scalable business model allows them to build a large team of Vacation Consultants and we’ve also seen an increase in multi-unit ownership. The fact that more than 40 percent of our franchisees own more than one location is a testament to the strength of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ business model! Plus, with over 1,000 Vacation Consultants added to our team in 2014, we anticipate even greater sales performance for the year ahead.
Ranked As a Top Rated Franchise Once Again
As a result of our success in 2014, we earned a spot in Franchise Business Review’s (FBR) Top 50 Franchises, along with an esteemed ranking in Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2015 Franchise 500. We’re especially proud of our FBR50 ranking since it’s based on feedback from our very own franchisees. When they’re happy, we’re happy!
Franchise Business Review surveys thousands of franchise owners across North America and publishes a ranking of today’s top franchise opportunities based exclusively on owner satisfaction. Through a detailed survey, our franchisees rate us well above the 2014 benchmark for franchisee support in all the categories presented in the survey. This means exceptional ratings in key franchisor performance indicators such as training and support, core values, franchise system and financial opportunity. Our company culture also received high rankings as 90% of our franchise partners agree that our Stronger.Together franchisee culture is excellent! This marks the sixth year in a row that Expedia CruiseShipCenters has been named a Top Franchise in the FBR50.
Recognized by entrepreneurs and franchisors as a top competitive tool of measurement, Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® list awarded Expedia CruiseShipCenters for the seventh consecutive year for its exceptional performance. Ranked at No. 221, we continue to hold our own as one of North America’s top performing franchises.
The Cruise Industry is Booming
The cruise industry is continuously evolving and introducing new and innovative ways to vacation at sea. In the past year alone, guests were introduced to robotic bartenders, first ever sky-diving at sea, and big name Broadway shows on the new Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas. In addition, cruise lines are also expanding their itineraries through new destinations across the world. With constant innovation and phenomenal experiences at sea, Our Franchise Partners know this is an exciting industry to build a travel business!
With more than 22.2 million people worldwide expected to take a cruise in 2015 and 20 new cruise ships to enter the market from 2015-18; the demand for cruise specialists like our Vacation Consultants will continue to grow (CLIA, 2014). According to Cruise Market Watch, only 53% of the target North American market (or 24% of the whole U.S population) have ever taken a cruise. With 70% of all cruises being booked through a travel agent, that means there is a huge untapped market of individuals looking for a travel professional to help them find the right vacation for them.
We find that today’s travelers are overwhelmed with options and want a trusted travel agent to help guide them through the trip planning process, especially for complex vacations like cruises. With the increase of multi-generational cruise travel and larger capacity ships, we will soon see even more people seeking the expertise of a reputable travel agency. It’s a good thing Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ 4,000 Vacation Consultants are all professionally trained to navigate spectacular vacation experiences! We’re ready to capitalize on this massive opportunity.
The Expedia Family is Growing
While we could talk all day about how much Expedia CruiseShipCenters has grown in the last year, we couldn’t be more proud of our parent company Expedia Inc. who continue to build their reputation as the most powerful brand in travel. In 2014, Expedia reported $50 Billion in gross annual bookings and acquired partner travel service, Travelocity, to its already extensive portfolio of travel brands. Plus, with the recent acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide, we know we’re partnered with the right travel brand to support our growth plans well into the future.
Expedia Inc.’s strategy is to own and power the best travel brands in the world, which is one of the reasons they acquired retail travel franchise, CruiseShipCenters back in 2007. They needed our help to serve the niche market of travelers who were looking for expert, personalized advice in navigating through the complexities of planning a cruise vacation.
So how do our franchisees benefit from being part of the most recognized brand in travel? As part of the Expedia family, our Franchise Partners enjoy the best of both worlds – they can take advantage the visibility that comes from a retail store, while also offering customers the option to book any type of vacation product with them online, anytime, at Expedia prices! Plus, they get the instant trust and recognition that comes from having the Expedia name on their door.
For more than 28 years, we have been navigating spectacular vacation experiences from our 190 franchise locations. We look forward to further growing our team in 2015 and becoming the trusted cruise retail network for all travelers across North America.