Travel Franchise Review: Q&A with Reid and Christy Trego of Expedia CruiseShipCenters
Partners in life and business, Reid and Christy Trego share their experience in their first year of owning their Center, and how they feel like they couldn’t have done it without their team, or each other.
Here’s Reid and Christy’s story:
What were you doing before becoming Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise partners?
Reid: We both worked for corporate America when we were newly married. We then owned a franchise tutoring business for 11 years. After we sold the tutoring business, we spent some time relaxing, and it gave us a lot of opportunities to travel and have fun. We started looking for something that we could do together, and that’s how we stumbled into the Expedia CruiseShipCenters opportunity.
Having previously owned a franchise, why did you decide that a travel franchise was best for you both?
Christy: The flexibility of being a business owner allowed us to travel more as a family. When we began thinking about our next chapter, and what kind of business we wanted, we liked the idea of owning a business in an industry that we love. We believe that travelling with friends and family is what bonds people together, and to have a business in that vein was really appealing to both of us.
How has working together as partners served you as you navigate this new industry together? What is your working dynamic like?
Christy: Overall, we have a very good personal and working relationship. We have defined roles that play to our individual strengths. Reid likes to say that I am a “rows and columns” kind of person, and he’s more “squiggly lines”. Reid is in charge of advertising, marketing, and building relationships with suppliers. He’s great at that! Where I’m more interested in managing our customer’s bookings, and understanding all of the ins and outs of the different cruise lines so that I can spend time training our consultants.
We are fortunate enough to be life partners as well as business partners living happily together.
What has your experience been like recruiting and leading a team of Vacation Consultants?
Reid: We have high quality people on our team, and I really enjoy working with them. It’s fun to see our consultants come in and dive right into the work. It’s much easier to steer them in the right direction as long as they’re moving forward. We discuss what their individual goals are and we work together to help them achieve them and in turn we achieve our Center goals as a team.
How would you describe the culture at your Center?
Reid: We knew that having a really positive and fun environment was critical to both of us when creating our team. We try really hard to create a personal relationship with each person, so each of them feel like they have a unique relationship with us. It keeps our consultants loyal, encouraged, and vested in the success of the Center.
Christy: We talk about being part of the “ECSC Roswell Rock Star Team” and how important it is to be supportive of one another all the time. We emphasize how important it is to take care of each customer when greeting them at the door or on the phone – even if they’re someone else’s client. Everyone is willing to pitch in. We have a good balance of motivation and cooperation in our Center.
Why is your community ideal for an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise?
Christy: Roswell, GA is a pretty affluent area. There are a number of neighborhoods around us that have the means and time to travel. It’s also nice that we can drive to a lot of ports. It’s an easy drive for a family who wants to go somewhere exotic without having to book plane tickets.
Reid: Our location is nice because we have a mix of mature and young families in the community. We also used our contacts from our previous business, and community activities, who refer their friends to us. Plus, we coach our travel consultants, to build their book of business by leveraging their own personal and social networks.
You’ve mentioned walk-ins and referrals, but how else do you find your customers?
Reid: We host several events a year in our area and we advertise upcoming promotions in local newspapers and magazines. Having a promotional calendar that is created for us by the corporate team is critical. Those promotions make it easier to talk to prospective customers. You’re not just calling and asking out of the blue to see if they want to book a vacation, but you can use an upcoming promotion as a lead-in to the conversation.
What do you believe sets Expedia CruiseShipCenters apart from our competitors, including travel websites?
Christy: At least in our area, there isn’t any other travel agency option that combines a retail location and big brand recognition like Expedia. As much as people like to use the Internet to do their research and read reviews, it’s rare that a person will look at a $2000-$4000 price tag online and simply click “buy now”. That’s a scary thing to do. Having a local retail business, and a trusted travel professional nearby is comforting to our customers.
How has the Expedia CruiseShipCenters Corporate Support team helped you launch and grow your business since you started?
Reid: Our experience with the corporate office has exceeded our expectations. They are incredibly encouraging and responsive to our questions and concerns. We came into this venture with a solid business background, but we had no travel industry experience, and in under two years, Christy has become a true travel professional and we’ve got a team of professionals who can offer advice that our clients can trust.
Christy: Just as we view our consultants as our clients, I feel that corporate views their Franchise Partners as their clients. When I have an issue or a problem, they are very responsive, helpful, and nice.
What aspects of this business do you enjoy the most?
Christy: I love when I have a client who is excited about a trip, and I can help bring their dream vacation to life. It’s really fun to partner with them and build an amazing vacation experience.
Where do you see your business in 5 years? How do you see your lifestyle changing as a result of your business growth?
Reid: We’re still new but I want to exceed benchmarks year after year. The future looks great for us and I hope we’ll generate enough sales activity where we can hire an office manager. The Expedia CruiseShipCenters will be a household name in Atlanta and the top place to speak with rock star travel consultants in the city.
Christy: Over the next couple of years, I want to continue to develop skills and capabilities of our team members. I’ve spent the first couple years learning the industry for myself, so I want to get to the point where I can fully dedicate myself to training and supporting our consultants so that each of them is the best travel resource to their own clients and prospects.
What do you love about cruising? Any memorable trips you have taken?
Christy: I think it’s a great way to see a lot of places with minimal effort. Plus, cruising is a great way to travel with a group of friends or family. When you have a large multi-generational family, everyone has different interests but each person can still have their own version of a fun vacation, and still experience it together. My favorite so far was last spring break when we cruised the western Caribbean with our family.
Reid: I love cruising for the same reasons Christy does, but I’m really excited to experience different ships. My favorite trip was one we took to Italy with our kids. It was great trip and we made so many memories with the family.
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