Expedia CruiseShipCenters Veteran Franchisee Feature: Francis James

Open your own Expedia franchise and be your own boss

Join forces with the largest brand in travel paired with a proven system and over 30 years of experience. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is seeking passionate travelers who are natural leaders to join its expanding network of franchise owners. We are proud to support Veterans and First Responders as they pursue their business ownership dreams by opening a retail travel franchise is their community. Our franchise model is a great fit for Veterans and First Responders where they can apply their previous experience and dedication by leading and developing a successful team of travel consultants.

Francis James – Santa Clarita, CA

Meet veteran franchise owner, Francis James. Francis joined the Expedia family earlier this year and opened his Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Santa Clarita, California. Previously, he had worked for Fortune 500 companies and the Department of Defense and has 35 years’ experience problem solving, leading, managing, financing and business operations. Francis began his career following graduation from the Air Force Academy as an Air Force Officer, serving as a Project Manager for large-scale defense acquisitions. After 10 years of active duty and transitioning to the Air Force Reserves, he became Comptroller for field funds disbursement operations at March Air Reserve Base in California, where he retired as Lieutenant Colonel.  Concurrent with his Reserve role in the Air Force, Francis started civilian life as a Financial Consultant for American Express and Merrill Lynch before becoming a Finance Manager for several corporations. Over the past two decades, Francis has worked in various senior management positions where he gained great mentoring and leadership skills.

Before discovering the Expedia franchise opportunity, he worked as a Senior Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis for a medical technology company. Ready for a new challenge, Francis found the Expedia franchise opportunity and was drawn to helping people plan spectacular vacations while being his own boss. When Francis isn’t running his Center, he enjoys spending time with family including his three kids ages 17, 20, and 23.

Are you a Veteran or First Responder looking to transition into a new career where you can build equity and have a fun lifestyle? You may be eligible for a 15% discount off the initial franchise fee! Click here to learn more about our Veterans and First Responders program.

Learn More

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is committed to setting all franchise owners up for success. We believe your success is our success and we provide franchise owners the tools and support needed to achieve their business goals. Learn more about our proven franchise model and award-winning technology as part of our franchise discovery process by completing the form below.

Inspiring our Franchisees to be Top Performers

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ Franchise Owner Recognition Program

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters we play hard and work hard too. Being a part of the exciting and constantly evolving travel industry means that our franchise owners get to reap the rewards of the industry while working diligently with their Centers to achieve and exceed the goals they have set each year with the support of their dedicated Franchise Performance Coach . We are dedicated to helping each one of our more than 255+ franchise locations accomplish these goals and push beyond them in all facets of their business from the recruitment of Vacation Consultants and in turn their Center sales performance. We believe that all that hard work and dedication deserves to be recognized and have a specific program designed to reward our top performing franchise owners, the Presidents Circle.

The Presidents Circle Recognition Program

Our robust recognition program, consists of four achievement levels beginning with Silver, Gold, Platinum, and the peak, Diamond. Each level encompasses performance thresholds for franchise owners to strive towards each year. All franchise owners who achieve our Diamond level status are invited to attend a complimentary cruise for two hosted by our President, Matthew Eichhorst, along with other Executive Team members as a celebration of their success and achievement.

This year, a record of 31 Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations achieved Diamond level of our President Circle – the highest honor for those who achieve $7.5 Million single location booked sales. This past July, Diamond level franchise owners set sail onboard the luxurious Cunard Line’s, Queen Victoria, and enjoyed a 9-day Baltic Sea cruise visiting history rich ports of call including, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Visby, Hamburg and St. Petersburg. The Diamond cruise is not only a reward for outstanding performance but also an opportunity for franchise owners to network with fellow top achievers and find further inspiration for continued success in the years ahead.

Join Forces with a Top Performing Brand

Being part of a $95 billion global travel company, Expedia franchise owners not only benefit from many travel perks but also the significant support in place helping them accomplish their business goals and our Presidents Circle provides a great opportunity for that dedication to be honored. Each of our franchise owners work closely with their devoted Franchise Performance Coach as their committed business advisor ensuring they’re on track to achieve their goals. Qualifying for any of the four levels of our Presidents Circle is a great accomplishment and we strongly believe our franchise owners success is our success.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is proud to be a leading retail travel agency franchise in North America and we are constantly striving to be better. At this year’s World’s Leading Cruise Lines Excellence Awards we were honored to receive three prestigious awards, Princess Cruises – Presidents Award, Carnival Cruise Lines – Retail Partner of the Year and Holland America Line – Franchise Agency Network Award. As an industry leader, we’re committed to building strong relationships with our franchise owners, travel industry partners and customers as displayed by these recent awards.

Koreen McNutt – Senior Director, Global Cruise Supply Commercial Strategy and Services

Learn More

Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to search for new franchise owners across North America. Are you interested in business ownership? If you’re ready to learn more about owning your own Expedia CruiseShipCenters complete the form below to receive our franchise brochure or review the essentials about our travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters Receives Top Honors at World’s Leading Cruise Line Excellence Awards 2018

The article was published September 2018 in FranchiseHarbor and FranchiseFarm

Koreen McNutt – Senior Director, Global Cruise Supply Commercial Strategy and Services

Bellevue, Wash. – The leading cruise travel agency franchise in North America, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, was the recipient of three prestigious awards at this year’s World’s Leading Cruise Lines Excellence Awards. Carnival Corporation’s three largest North American cruise brands, top cruise retail organizations, as well as travel agencies and agents from across the continent gathered in San Diego for the formal awards ceremony.

Sales and marketing representatives from Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises were on hand to celebrate excellence in cruise sales in 12 categories on the national and regional levels as well as sectors of the business, such as consortia, franchises and online agencies. Expedia Group was presented with the first-ever Princess Cruises – Presidents Award, and Expedia CruiseShipCenters was presented with the Carnival Cruise Lines – Retail Partner of the Year Award and Holland America Line – Franchise Agency Network Award.

“We are thrilled to have been recognized for these top honors as it is a direct reflection of the hard work of all of us at Expedia CruiseShipCenters and the Global Cruise Team,” said Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “We see this as a testament to our commitment to maintaining the highest level of respect for our relationships with our partners and customers alike, and look forward to continued long-lasting relationships for years to come.”

Adding to these notable achievements, Expedia CruiseShipCenters also broke into Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise 500 ranking. With 165 locations in Canada and 90 in the United States, the brand is moving full steam ahead with expansion plans. Riding this wave of success, Expedia CruiseShipCenters plans to open more franchise locations in 2018 with a particular focus on Florida, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Washington and Arizona – to best serve travelers across the country.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters offers cruise vacations and more through its 255 locations across North America. Customers can choose from numerous vacation possibilities over land, sea and air, including customized trips, coach and rail tours, and insurance – all at Expedia prices. Each franchise location offers personal vacation consultations in person, through email or over the phone, so customers have the freedom to book when, where, and how they choose. As part of the Expedia family of brands, customers get to enjoy the best of two worlds: competitive pricing on a wide range of travel products and expert, personalized advice from a real person connected to a locally owned business.

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Love to Travel? You Might be the Perfect Franchisee at This Company.

With Expedia CruiseShipCenters, you’ll never work a day if you’re passionate about what you do.

The video was published August 2018 on Entrepreneur

Booking travel online can be easy and convenient. We’ve all done it. But when it comes to booking complex travel like a cruise vacation, it often helps to have the special touch of a real-life, human travel agent. The people behind Expedia CruiseShipCenters realize this and have made it the foundation of their retail travel agency franchise business.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owners lead and develop a team of vacation consultants who are dedicated to helping cruisegoers in their community navigate every option—from which ship to choose, to which itinerary is best, to meal times, and more—to find the getaway of their dreams. They not only sell cruises but are a full-service retail travel agency selling air, hotels and vacation packages as well.

And they’re looking for new franchisees—if you love to travel. “It’s really a passion business,” says Jeff Warkentin, a Franchise Development Manager for Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “You get to travel, you get to meet people, you get to talk about travel every day.” In other words, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters—which is part of the Expedia Group network of travel brands—started franchising in 1987 and has more than 255 retail travel agency locations throughout North America. Initial investment will run a franchisee between about $165,000 and $282,000, including the franchise fee of $39,000 and 18 to 36 months of working capital.

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: The 4 Techniques That Helped Me Walk the Fine Line of Work and Single Motherhood

Being disciplined with your time is one of the most important skills a momtrepreneur needs to master

The story appeared in the July 2018 edition of Entrepreneur

There’s no such thing as an easy path to entrepreneurship, and being a single mom makes that journey even more difficult. As a franchise business owner and single mother myself, I speak from experience when I say that maintaining a business while raising the ones I love most can be challenging. Yet, despite the challenges, my role as single momtrepreneur is one I wear with pride. When you’re surrounded by the two things that excite you most — your kids and your business — every day is a learning experience. So, if you too are a single mother looking to pursue your dreams as an entrepreneur, here are a few things I did that helped me get to where I am today.

Be transparent with your priorities

Being disciplined with your time is one of the most important skills a momtrepreneur needs to learn. Establishing a natural rhythm in alternating your attention among your children, clients and workforce will help you find your footing on the journey. Entrepreneurship by no means is a 9-to-5 job, but creating a list of priorities and a road map for your day will help you feel less overwhelmed.

It’s also important to recognize your limits. I used to be an overachiever working eight- to 12-hour days for six days a week, and although my business was growing and we were in one of our busiest seasons, I realized that I wasn’t giving the proper amount of attention to my kids. I needed to make a change.

To adjust, I learned to be transparent with my team about my need (and maybe their need too!) to balance time with my family; and I made sure they understood what times they could and couldn’t reach me.

For example, I encourage my team to text and email me any time the need arises, but unless it’s an emergency I may not be able to reply until regular business hours. While it took some time for the team members to adjust, everyone came to understand that life outside of a business is just as important as life inside.

Be crystal clear with your team and lay out some ground rules on when and how you can be reached outside of the office. At the beginning of every week, I bring my team together to identify goals and discuss how we plan to reach them. Creating this outline will help you manage your workload in the office, while also allowing you to plan your day-to-day obligations as a mom.

Don’t suffer alone

Momtrepreneurs need to understand that there are some instances when things are out of our hands. Trying to be perfect at juggling everything around you is the tempting thing to do, but it takes a certain level of bravery to be vulnerable and to ask for help when help is needed. Whether it’s seeking out assistance from the team you’ve built firsthand or seeking out guidance from your family, understand that it’s the recovery that’s more important than the fall. How you bounce back will shape how you charge ahead further down the road.

One great way to find help is to form a network of mothers in your neighborhood. Early on as a parent, I organized a playgroup of more than 30 families, allowing us to get together on a regular basis to socialize and discuss the challenges we faced. Any kind of network, whether a book club or sports group, is a great way to get people together, so find a way to better connect yourself with those around you.

Use online resources, as well. Whether you turn to a site like Meetup.com, which helps you find others with similar interests and hobbies, or an app like 2Houses, which helps keep track of your children’s schedules, or to a meditation tool like Stop Breathe & Think, find — and use — the tools that can assist with your work and personal life.

Team up with your kids

Children are very inquisitive, and one of the duties of a parent is to foster that curiosity. As a momtrepreneur, I’ve realized that one of the best places to nurture my children is right there in my office. They don’t understand every intricacy of my travel business, but showing them around and even letting them “work” is a great way for me to spend time with my kids while getting things done.

Giving my children assignments in the office is more than simple delegation. My kids sometimes sweep up and keep things tidy, put stamps on envelopes or shred papers that I no longer need. I also take them to community events.

Children can be great ambassadors to a brand. I ask them to help with direct marketing at events and to greet potential customers. And all of these activities allow me to harness my children’s curiosity, giving them a leg up on life while also showing them the working world.

Celebrate every victory

I used to think that my life would be defined by a few key moments, but I’m learning every day that it’s the little moments with both my kids and my team that I cherish.

Yes, birthdays, graduations and record sales deserve their own celebrations, but I have begun to appreciate and prefer the small moments of human connection, too. Reading a book to my kids before they fall asleep or helping a family find a cruise destination that’s perfect for them brings me an immense sense of joy and satisfaction. Moments like these are the ones that make my work as a momtrepreneur meaningful, and keep me motivated to continue on this journey.

Running a business while raising a family is definitely a challenge, but it’s one I look forward to taking every day. I know that every day is an opportunity to become a better person, both as a successful entrepreneur and a loving mother.

Click here to read this article on entrepreneur.com

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

Meet our Franchise Advisors

Supporting you through the Expedia Franchise Education Process

Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to expand its full-service retail travel franchises across the continent and our dynamic duo of Franchise Advisors are dedicated to helping potential franchise owners find the business opportunity of their dreams.

Our Franchise Advisors each have extensive experience in franchising and a passion for our proven business model. They’ll help guide you through our seven-step franchise education process and ensure that all your questions are answered along the way.

Jeff Warkentin, Franchise Advisor

Jeff has worn many different hats at Expedia CruiseShipCenters. As a former Franchise Owner turned Franchise Performance Coach with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Jeff has experienced all sides of our brand’s proven system. Prior to joining the Corporate Support team, Jeff purchased an under-performing Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in 2007 and grew it into a top 10 franchise in our system before selling it three years later. Jeff now uses his wealth of knowledge on the Expedia CruiseShipCenters model to excite candidates about how they too can realize their entrepreneurial dreams and build equity in a fun, growing industry, just like he did.

What advice would you give to candidates? My advice to candidates is to choose a business that’s going to align with your lifestyle and long-term plan. If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work again!

What’s your favorite destination you’ve visited? My wife and I took a Paul Gauguin cruise to the Cook Islands and it was like we were traveling undiscovered land, it is truly stunning. I would highly recommend it if you’re looking to explore the South Pacific.

Where is your next dream vacation? I’d really like to see France and do a river cruise through the Bordeaux region. Wine sampling, great food and good company sounds like a dream.

Daniel Meyer, Franchise Advisor

Daniel joined Expedia CruiseShipCenters in 2014 and continues his successful career in franchise development. He combines his Master’s in Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Communications with more than 20 years of experience in sales management, and business development. As a previous Franchise Owner and Franchise Development Manager with Tutor Doctor, he has a deep understanding of both franchising and business and has a passion for helping people find the right opportunity to meet their personal and financial goals.

What advice would you give to candidates? I’d tell candidates to choose an industry that encompasses a passion of theirs (i.e. travel or education) and understand that the day to day role is something you can get excited about.

What’s your favorite destination you’ve visited? One of my favorite places I’ve visited is the Moselle River in Germany on a river cruise. There was so much history, architecture and WINE! One afternoon we floated past 35 Castles. I went to Prague on the same trip and it was an amazingly beautiful city.

Where is your next dream vacation? This summer I’m going to Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. I’ve been planning the trip for a while and I’m excited to see each of those cities.

Our Franchise Advisors are here to help educate you on the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity. Jeff and Daniel are both experts in franchise ownership and will guide you through the process of discovering our franchise. If you’re passionate about traveling and enjoy building and leading a team, owning an Expedia Franchise could be perfect for you.

Complete the form below to receive of free franchise report and Jeff or Daniel will reach out shortly! You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

Travel Agent or Travel Agency Owner

Which travel business opportunity is right for you?

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we offer two distinct business opportunities with different investment levels, earning potential and lifestyles. Not sure if you want to be a Travel Consultant or be the owner of your own travel agency? Answer the questions in our handy quiz below to determine which opportunity is right for you!

Travel Agent Opportunity

To learn more about becoming a Vacation Consultant with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and get connected with your nearest Center, submit an inquiry at www.joinecsc.com.

Franchise Owner Opportunity

To learn more about becoming a Franchise Owner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and begin our discovery process, complete the form below. You’ll gain immediate access to our Franchise Report which contains useful information about our franchise opportunity.

Are you ready to get started but still aren’t sure which opportunity is the right fit for you? Read our detailed comparison of the two opportunities: Travel Agent or Travel Agency Owner

Determining the Best Expedia CruiseShipCenters Opportunity For You!

Comparing our Travel Agent and Franchise Owner opportunity

Expedia CruiseShipCenters offers not just one but two business opportunities! Each offers it’s own earning potential, time commitment, investment level and lifestyle. Continue reading to learn more about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters Travel Agent Opportunity and the Expedia Franchise Owner opportunity to determine which is the best fit for your personal goals!

Do you want to start your own travel business?

If you made your way here, the answer is probably “yes”! Congratulations on coming to the right place to start a travel business. As part of the most recognized brand in travel, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has been providing travel business opportunities for passionate entrepreneurs like yourself for over 30 years!

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters you can choose to become the owner of a retail travel agency franchise in your community, or you can become a Vacation Consultant who is supported by one of our 255+ franchise locations already in existence. The right opportunity for you will depend on a number of factors described in more detail below.

What kind of time commitment are you able to invest in your business?

As a Vacation Consultant with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, you have the flexibility to set your own schedule and come into the Center when and as often as you choose to. You can sell travel on a part-time basis or make it a full-time business. You’ll receive support from your local Franchise Owner, but as an Independent Contractor working on commission only, the hours you put into your business is completely up to you.

As an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner, the demands on your time will be more intense. During the first few years while you’re getting your Center built, your team recruited and trained, and your business to profitability, you’ll be working at least a full-time week, likely more. Franchise Owners at our more mature locations will often hire a manager for the Center to allow them more freedom to travel and enjoy the perks of the business they’ve worked hard to build.

Do you want to spend most of your time organizing vacations for others?

If you love to plan vacations for your family and friends and want to do that all day long, our Vacation Consultant opportunity is likely the best fit for you. Our Consultants are passionate travellers who love to share their experiences with others. We call them Navigators of Spectacular Vacation Experiences because of their commitment to ensuring every client’s trip is nothing short of perfection.

As a Franchise Owner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, you’ll sell a bit of travel in the beginning while you’re learning the business and training your team, but this will not be the main aspect of your role. Starting a travel agency requires you to wear many hats including recruiter, trainer, coach, marketer, community liaison and sometimes bookkeeper. If you have a business partner, you can trade off responsibilities based on your respective strengths, but in the beginning you should expect to be doing a little bit of everything until your business gets off the ground.

What is your main financial motivator for starting a business?

Many of our Vacation Consultants make a very good living on the commissions they earn selling cruises and vacations; however, the majority of our agents are looking only to earn supplemental income through a business that offers them flexibility and enjoyment. Stay-at-home parents, retirees, or people who simply love to share their passion for travel with others have all chosen to become Navigators of Spectacular Vacation Experiences with us. As part of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, you’ll be paid industry-leading commissions for each cruise you sell on the date your clients depart on their trip.

For our Franchise Owners on the other hand, this business is all about building long-term equity. You’ll earn a portion of your Consultants’ commissions in the short-run, but the real goal is to build up a valuable asset so that you can eventually sell your travel business at a sizable profit. The larger your team, sales and database of loyal customers, the more valuable your business will be. Many of our Franchise Owners who have followed our system have been very successful at building equity in their businesses, including starting, growing and selling multiple locations.

Do you love to lead and coach teams?

Franchise Partners support Vacation Consultants with ongoing training and support.

If you love being part of a team but not necessarily leading it, our Vacation Consultant opportunity is probably a better fit for you. You’ll still enjoy all the perks that come with being part of a fun working culture in a retail Center, including training and mentorship from your local Franchise Partner as well as your fellow Consultants.

The most important aspect of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner’s role is team leadership. Coaching, motivating and leading a large team of Vacation Consultants to success will be key to building a profitable travel business in your community. Our best Franchise Owners are natural leaders who love to help others achieve their goals. They facilitate team meetings, create a fun and exciting culture in their Center, and work with each individual Vacation Consultant to set sales targets and build a plan to achieve them.

Do you have access to $285,000 to invest in a retail business?

Starting a travel business either as a Vacation Consultant or Franchise Owner offer very different earning potentials and corresponding investment levels. Our Vacation Consultants can get started selling travel for as little as $299 in the US or $499 in Canada.

To become an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner, the financial requirements are more rigid as it takes time and capital to build a successful retail travel business. To fund your Center build-out and cover working capital during your first year of opening, you can expect to spend between $165,000 – $285,000 depending on your market and the space you open in. If you choose to move forward with our franchise discovery process, we’ll talk to you about financing options and ways you can leverage your retirement savings or home equity to fund your business.

Ready to get started?

Now that you’ve determined which travel business opportunity is right for you, it’s time to take the next step in making it happen!

I’d like to learn more about becoming a Travel Agent

To learn more about becoming a Vacation Consultant with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and get connected with your nearest Center, submit an inquiry at www.joinecsc.com.

I’d like to learn more about becoming a Franchise Owner

To learn more about becoming a Franchise Owner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and begin our discovery process, complete the form below. You’ll gain immediate access to our Franchise Report which contains useful information about our franchise opportunity.

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters Announces Expansion Plans for Texas

Leading Travel Franchise Seeks to have 23 Texas Locations Open by 2023

Expedia CruiseShipCenters plans to have 23 Locations open in Texas by 2023

TEXAS – PRNewswire, the top cruise retail travel agency franchise in North America, has announced targeted expansion plans to bring additional travel franchise locations to Texas. Joining four locations already open, and an additional seven under development, the leading travel franchise brand plans to have a total of 23 locations open and operating in Texas over the next three to five years.

Folded into an overall growth vision for the brand, the new Texas development efforts are key to Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ goal to reach its 500-location milestone in North America over the next five years. In addition to the four locations already in operation throughout Texas, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has seven locations currently in development in Dallas, McKinney, Houston, San Antonio and Waco, which are all projected to open over the next three to nine months.

“The strength and rapid growth of our brand is influenced by the increased popularity of the cruise industry which has continued to rise over the last decade,” said Bob Tipple, Senior Director of Franchising. “As the third largest state for cruise embarkations, Texas provides enormous potential for cruise vacation sales and is the perfect market for Expedia CruiseShipsCenters to continue its growth.”

According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), over one million cruisers originated from the Lone Star State in 2016 accounting for nearly 10 percent of all North American cruise passengers. As driving distance to port is a key decision-making factor for cruisers, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has identified the state of Texas as a prime market for its retail travel franchise opportunity due to its significant source of cruisers and cruise port in Galveston.

“Texas is the second most populated state in America—and with over 28 million residents residing there, we have room to add over 100 new Centers,” said Tipple. “Our current franchise development plan hones in on the next three years as we look to add 12 more Centers in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, as well as in several other growth markets.”

Additional target markets for Expedia CruiseShipsCenters’ franchise development in Texas includes the greater Houston area, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Corpus Christi, and several markets in between.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth is in part driven by the continued expansion of the cruising industry. As noted in the recent CLIA report, cruise travel is expected to rise in 2018, boosting the global economy. An estimated 27.2M passengers are expected to cruise (demand has increased 20.5 percent in last five years). Additionally, 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships are scheduled to debut. After years of stagnant performance, the cruise industry is coming back with a vengeance, contributing more than $126B in total output worldwide.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters provides exceptional value and expert advice for travelers booking cruises and vacations through its network of over 250 retail travel agency franchises. As part of the Expedia group family of brands, the company’s more than 5,000 Vacation Consultants sell a wide range of vacation products including cruises, flights, hotels, vacation packages, tours, excursions and more. The company has been navigating spectacular vacation experiences for customers across North America for 30 years.

With plans to open 23 Texas locations in the next 5 years, Expedia CrusieShipCenters continues to provide business opportunities for driven team leaders who want to build income, equity and a great lifestyle with a retail business they are passionate about.

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview or our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

The Cruise Industry’s Bright Future

Why now is the time to invest in this fast growing segment of travel

If the mention of cruising brings to mind images of Gavin MacLeod and “The Love Boat”, it might be time to rethink your definition of a cruise vacation. Cruising as an industry has come a long way since the 1970’s and as innovation continued to drive change, the prospect of taking a cruise vacation started to appeal to a wider and wider market. Today, cruising is a multi-billion dollar industry offering options for every age, interest and budget. In 2015, the global economic output of the cruise industry totaled $117 billion according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). And that number is on the rise as more destinations, ships and categories of cruisers continue to fuel the industry’s impressive growth.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions we get from prospective franchisees considering investing in a business in the cruise industry.

Is the Cruise Industry Growing?

There’s nothing that shows confidence in the industry more than the world’s leading cruise lines investing in increased capacity. Their faith in the future of vacations at sea is so strong that new ships are being built at an unprecedented rate. Between now and 2026, CLIA reports that more than 100 new cruise ships will enter the market, which is why every shipyard in the world is currently in use bringing these new vessels to life. To give you a sense of the scale of these investments, new ships coming out in 2017 alone represent a $6.8 billion spend from the cruise lines. What’s driving this growth? Unprecedented demand. People love to cruise and in the last 10 years, demand for cruise vacations has increased an astounding 62%, and in 2017, it’s estimated that 25.3 million guests will set sail on a vacation at sea (CLIA).

How Have Cruise Ships Evolved?

Zip lines, surf simulators, world-class performances, celebrity chefs; today’s cruise ships have evolved beyond our wildest dreams. When modern cruising was first introduced in the 1960’s, there were a handful of lines offering a similar product. Today, there are a plethora of cruise lines offering a myriad of experiences to meet every desire – from the non-stop excitement of a contemporary megaship, to the peaceful intimacy of a small luxury line. River cruising (a category still in its infancy) has exploded in recent years and now boasts 184 ships with more on the way!

For a glimpse into what a cruise vacation looks like today, check out the video below for the spectacular new Norwegian Joy which debuted earlier this year.

And that’s just the ship! As more and more destinations become accessible by cruise ship each year, itineraries are becoming increasingly diverse and travelers can find the perfect mix of beaches, culture or days at sea to meet their vacation expectations. With so many options to choose from, it’s no wonder cruising now appeals to such a broad range of travelers. It truly offers something for everyone.

Who Is Today’s Cruiser?

An evolving product leads to an evolving consumer and typical cruisers today are much different than the grey-haired, shuffleboard playing stereotype than many have in their minds. With today’s ships offering amenities targeted at younger travelers, cruisers continue to get younger and younger with CLIA reporting their average age now at 49 years old. Part of the reason for this trend is growing demand from Millennials and multi-generational cruisers. Children who grew up cruising with their parents are now taking to the sea themselves, often with their own young children (and the grandparents!) as their preferred method of travel.

Cruising enjoys the highest satisfaction and repeat rates of any type of vacation with nearly 90% of cruisers saying they were highly satisfied with their trip (CLIA). However, non-cruisers also pose a significant untapped market. According to CLIA, when asked what kind of vacations might be of interest in the next three years 48% of non-cruisers also expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise.

Americans make up the vast majority of all cruisers with 11.5% of the world’s cruise guests coming from the United States (CLIA). Why do Americans love to cruise? A recent study from CLIA reported that 74% of respondents liked the convenience of being able to drive to a cruise, a fact that’s driving cruise lines to offer more itineraries originating in US home ports. Eliminating the need for flights is making cruising more affordable an enticing for Americans than ever before.

Where Do Cruisers Book Their Trips?

You might assume that the rise of online travel agencies has lead to all types of travel being booked online, however, cruising continues to be an anomaly. While many travelers turn to travel websites for simple purchases like flights and hotels, the majority of cruisers still choose to book more complex and expensive travel (like cruises) through a traditional travel agent. According to Cruise Lines International Association , 82% of cruise vacations tend to be booked through a travel agent.

So why do cruisers use travel agents? Unlike tours or other packaged vacations, there are a lot of decisions to make when booking a cruise. Which itinerary do I want? Which cruise line is best suited to me? Which ship has the amenities I’m looking for? Which stateroom category and location are best? Add shore excursions, transfers and onboard dining and you’ll be calling your agent for help before you can say “anchors aweigh”.

Even the most seasoned cruisers choose to book with cruise specialists like Expedia CruiseShipCenters year after year because they have a relationship with their Vacation Consultant who knows their travel preferences and can help them find the perfect experience they’re looking for. Best of all, it doesn’t cost any more to use a travel agent to book a cruise! Travel agent commissions come out of the cruise line’s pocket, not the customer’s, so that added expertise comes free of charge. Cruise lines invest millions of dollars each year in advertising and partnerships that support travel agents because they know this distribution channel is so essential to filling their ships.

The Future is Bright

Increasing interest from travelers; unprecedented capacity investments from cruise lines; broadening customer demographics; growing demand for agent expertise — all of this adds up to incredible potential for cruise-focused travel agencies like Expedia CruiseShipCenters. Brands with established cruise line relationships and a recognizable consumer names are well-positioned to take advantage of the cruise industry’s bright future, especially in the US market.

There has never been a better time to invest in an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise. To learn more about starting a business in the growing cruise industry, get access to our Free Franchise Report by filling out the form below or read the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.