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.