In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Reversing the Tide featuring Bob Tipple, VP Franchising

The article was published in May 2019 in Cruise Week

Bob Tipple, VP franchising, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, reports how this company is expanding in an unexpected way: storefronts.

The fact that a company with “Expedia” in its name is becoming a force in brick and mortar cruise selling is one reason Tipple’s report is not just a boring story of growth. But numbers do help tell the story: “We’ve got 37 more [franchisees] in development as we speak, so this will definitely be a banner year for us,” says Tipple.

Right now, the primary focus of expansion is the Southeast: “We’ve grown exponentially in Florida over the last couple of years, and now Georgia with several multi-unit locations,” notes Tipple.

Moving forward, the Northeast will be a focus. “Also, our focuses are Texas, California, and Illinois, as the greater Chicago area is gaining traction,” he says.

One reason Tipple is confident growth in storefront locations will succeed is that it comes in tandem with cruise expansion: “These five, six thousand passenger ships are just an absolute boon for capacity. And they need us to help fill those cabins.”

The Big Myth
While Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ foray into physical retail locations is not what one might expect from the Internet giant, that’s not the only unexpected thing about this expansion. Just ask John Q. Public what they would think of a successful web company opening a bunch of storefront cruise agencies.

Says Tipple: “When you ask the average person on the street about [storefront] travel agencies, they go, ‘Oh, retail travel agencies? Aren’t they going away? Or haven’t they gone away?'”

He calls it “a big myth” but one that is understandable. “When is the last time we ever would’ve walked into a travel agency to book a flight or a nice hotel somewhere?” asks Tipple. “It’s just way too convenient to do it yourself, and we’ve been trained over the last 20-odd years to do that online.”

But, he continues, using phrases everyone in this business has heard regarding cruise sales: “When it comes to cruising and the complexity and the higher cost of a cruise vacation, that’s where the expertise and the guidance from a travel professional is really gaining steam.”

Enter The Young
The third unexpected feature of Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ expansion is that younger people, relatively speaking, are coming into the business as franchisees.

Tipple draws a contrast with home-based consultants and franchisee operators in this regard. “Regarding the home-based consultants, I would say a lot of them are in a second career,” he says. “But as we bring brand new franchise partners on board, that group is getting younger.”

Specifically, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has opened franchises over the last two years where a lot of the owners grew up cruising with their parents or grandparents. “Some owners are in their late 30s, and many are in their 40s,” he reports.

And oftentimes, a younger franchise owner coming into the business is looking to recruit a team of people in their same general age group.

“So they’re not necessarily going out to look for the 62-year-old second career person,” says Tipple. “They’re looking for somebody who wants to build their own business as a travel consultant. They’re looking for people who have their own circle of influence.”

Whether at home or storefront, he says the demand is growing. “Now these new Gen-Zs are coming along. These people do all their research online, but they don’t know what to do when they finish the research. That’s where the help of a real travel professional comes in.”

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.

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In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® One On One With Matthew Eichhorst

 

The interview was published in May 2019 in Thrive Global

I spoke to Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, about his journey and best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Matthew: I’m a blue-collar guy in a white-collar job. I got my taste for entrepreneurship cleaning and then installing swimming pools, and my dad was a longshoreman for 42 years. While I’ve since transitioned from installing swimming pools to managing companies, I haven’t strayed far from my roots. Once I’m out of the office and I’ve shrugged out of the white collar, there’s nothing I’d enjoy more than cruising around on my Harley, or exploring new terrain on my dirt bike with my son.

Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Matthew: My journey towards becoming President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters was an indirect one. I was president of a tech company, and Expedia CruiseShipCenters was a client. I had built a good relationship with Michael Drever, the company’s founder, and after working together for several years, he contracted me to help accelerate and structure the business for growth. As I learned more about the business and the cruise industry, I realized that this was something I wanted to be a part of. In a few years I purchased equity in the business, and shortly thereafter I was appointed president.

A setback that was instrumental to my growth happened early on in my career, in which the business had an over reliance on one customer. While loyal and reliable customers are certainly the lifeblood of any business in that you’ll enjoy predictable cashflow and secure a platform for growth, I learned that for your business to be fiscally responsible, you need to have strategic diversification. At the end of the day, we aren’t able to control the factors that influence our customers, and if our fortunes are tied to theirs, whatever problems they experience will ultimately affect us as well.  While I had to learn this the hard way, now it has become second nature for me to think strategically and to make decisions that will enable the business to reduce risk and boost sales growth at the same time, protecting long term sustainability.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Matthew: In my experience, integrity, the ability to inspire others, and vision are defining qualities of an effective leader. A strong leader will choose to do what’s right rather than what’s expected, to put in motion actions that will inspire others to do more and become more, and have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish, where they are going, and how they intend to get there.

Leaders and aspiring leaders can take their leadership skills to the next level by fueling their curiosity and their desire to constantly learn and grow. The world around us is constantly changing and evolving, and to be able to lead effectively, we need to do more than just stay abreast of current trends – we need to stay ahead of current trends. The only way to do this is to keep learning. Never stop asking questions, never stop being curious, and never stop striving to be better.

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives, leaders?

Matthew: Lead by Example: Showing, rather than telling, sends a powerful message of who you are and what your expectations are, and if you set an example, those around you will start to follow. If you want your employees to be punctual, make it a point to be on time for every meeting. If you want your team to be hard workers, demonstrate that you don’t shy away from getting your hands dirty and putting in the long hours if necessary to get the job done. An effective leader is able to practice what they preach, and by doing so, they earn the loyalty and respect of those around them.

Matthew: Learn How to Communicate: To lead effectively, you need to be heard and understood, and equally important is that you need to be able to listen to those around you. Effective communication is a two-way street, and a good leader is able to express their ideas and strategies clearly and persuasively, while also listening to the concerns and feedback of others with an open mind. Through clear communication, goals and visions can be aligned which allow action to be taken collectively and powerfully.

Matthew: Make Self-Assessment a Regular Habit: Leadership is a continually evolving process, and to be a better leader, it’s important to regularly assess your skills, your opportunities for growth, and your management style. By assessing yourself regularly, you’re able to keep track of your goals, and you’ll get a better understanding of what’s working for you and what isn’t so you can start to make changes to stay ahead of the game. In doing this, you’ll be developing a leadership style that truly fits you best.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you ever received?

Matthew: The best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from Aman Bhutani, the President for Brand Expedia Group, who encouraged all of us at Expedia to become better versions of ourselves by making something one percent better from the day before. The notion of taking small, incremental steps every day really resonated with me, because it’s applicable to both business and personal growth. To grow your business, make that one extra call to a potential customer. To improve your health, that those extra five minutes out of your day to go for a quick stroll outside. While these small actions don’t sound like much, if you keep this up every day, the improvements will start compounding, and that will gradually lead to the change you want. In time, you’ll start to see improvements in different areas of your life, and all it takes is a commitment to become just a little bit better than you were yesterday.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Matthew: Many people have been instrumental in helping me along my professional journey over the last 40 years, and if there is one thing that everyone should be doing to pay it forward, it would be to take the time to help other people. You can consider becoming someone’s mentor as there are always aspiring young leaders who could benefit from your knowledge and experience, or you can simply say “yes” when someone seeks your advice or help in any way shape or form.  How you define “helping others” is entirely up to you, but at the end of the day, it’s about extending a helping a hand to someone else when you have the capacity and power to do so.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Matthew: I’ve been golfing for many years now, and what I enjoy about the sport is that it teaches me how to stay focused. Golf requires an enormous amount of concentration and the ability to stay present to the task at hand, and this is a skill that has certainly benefited me in my career. Off the golf course, I’m able to stay focused on my goals, to think clearly and rationally, and make sound decisions.

Dirt biking is another hobby of mine that I enjoy. In fact, I’ll be going on a two-week trip to Mongolia this summer with my 17-year-old son after he graduates from high school, so we can go dirt biking around the Gobi Desert. What I enjoy about dirt biking is that allows me to tap into my adventurous side, and to spend quality time with my children.

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.

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The Annual Franchise Owner Conference 2019 Aboard the Carnival Dream

Our annual week-long conference at sea re-energizes our Franchise Partners and Corporate Team

Each year our Franchise Partners and Corporate team look forward to our much anticipated annual franchise conference at sea. As an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner, attending our National Conference is so much more than setting sail on an amazing cruise it’s an opportunity to come together to celebrate our successes from the past year and to prepare for another great year ahead.

This April, we welcomed over 500 of our franchise owners, travel industry executives and Corporate team, onboard the Carnival Dream for a roundtrip Eastern Caribbean sailing from New Orleans. The seven-day conference consisted of an action-packed agenda with executive keynote presentations, workshops, and panel discussions aimed at leveraging the future growth of the cruise industry and helping our franchise owners prepare for another incredible year ahead.

“Our annual conference represents a unique moment when our entire industry and system are united in the same space. Our Franchise Partners, Corporate executives, and industry thought leaders gather to share best practices, build relationships, and drive the industry forward,” says Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

We thoughtfully craft the week at sea with our franchisees in mind. Our goal is to provide maximum value for our Franchise Partners as they take time away from their Center to work on their business. We organize a variety of educational workshops, inspiring keynote speakers, and fun networking events with industry leaders, suppliers, and fellow franchisees. Plus, a little downtime in the sun! By the end of the week, our franchisees come home with a renewed and elevated level of excitement for their business.

Build and Establish Relationships

Another benefit of attending National Conference is getting to meet or reconnect with members of the Corporate team that you work so closely with! You’ll also get to spend some quality time with your fellow franchisees who are truly your built-in support network. Having a group of people to turn to who have been in your shoes is an incredible resource for a franchisee, whether you’re just starting out and want advice on recruiting your dream team, or have been in business for years and are looking for fresh new ideas to reach travelers in your community.

Experience the Company Culture

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters we’re dedicated to recognizing our success when we’ve earned it and we make fun a priority. This couldn’t be more true than at our National Conference with great events like our Awards Dinner Gala, Neon theme night, cocktail parties and more. Our franchisees live our mantra of Stronger.Together® and enjoy time together while recognizing our combined and individual accomplishments. Expedia CruiseShipCenters charity of choice is breast cancer research and awareness. Through donations at National Conference from corporate and franchise initiatives, in addition to a match donation from Expedia Group, Expedia CruiseShipCenters raised more than $30,000!

Learn more about starting your own travel agency franchise

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a retail travel agency franchise backed by the largest travel brand in the world with more than 290 retail locations open or under development across North America. As the cruise industry grows larger each year, customers are seeking the expert advice of a travel agent who can create customized travel plans and provide personal service.

If you’re ready to learn more, we invite you to continue exploring the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity by completing the form below.

In the News:Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Takes Action Against Breast Cancer, Raises Over $30,000 at Annual National Conference

May 03, 2019 Franchising.com Bellevue, Wash. – The top cruise travel agency franchise in North America, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, continues to generously support its charity of choice, breast cancer research and awareness. Through fundraising initiatives at the corporate and franchise level, in addition to a matched donation from Expedia Group, the company raised more than $30,000 for the cause at its recent National Conference onboard the Carnival Dream – contributing to its year-to-date total of more than $320,000.

Over 300 franchise partners, suppliers, and corporate staff all came together on the morning of April 12 for a group stretch and a “Pink and White Pajama Party” themed walk around the ship’s jogging track. In addition, Expedia CruiseShipCenters posted several memorial boards, where participants could write the names of individuals they personally knew who fought the battle against breast cancer, or write words of encouragement. Throughout the week-long conference, funds were raised via a 50/50 draw, a raffle containing incredible travel prizes donated by Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ suppliers, and an online pledge drive. As the event came to a close, more than $19,000 was raised, and Expedia Group contributed another $15,000 donation to the cause.

“Our fundraising efforts toward finding a cure for breast cancer both allows the Expedia CruiseShipCenters family to not only give back, but come together as a community. It is a cause near and dear to our hearts as it has impacted our company in many ways,” said Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “As our organization continues to grow, we look forward to launching even more initiatives and opportunities for our team to get involved. As the network strengthens, we hope to be able to increase the amount we donate each year.”

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, 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 Group 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.

Join a company that cares. With an Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise, you can enjoy the benefits of owning a retail business, while making dream vacations come true.

If you are interested in owning your own Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise learn more here

For more information and details about booking your dream vacation, please visit https://www.cruiseshipcenters.com/en-US/corporate.

About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Expedia CruiseShipCenters provides exceptional value and expert advice for travelers booking cruises and vacations through its network of over 291 retail travel agency franchises. As part of the Expedia Group family of brands, the company’s more than 6,400 Vacation Consultants facilitate the booking of 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.

Expedia and CruiseShipCenters are trademarks or registered trademarks of Expedia, Inc. or its affiliates in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners. © 2019 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved. CST # 2029030-50 and CST # 20893-43

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.

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In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Newest Center in Longwood, FL

We are excited to announce Vik Patel opening the doors of our newest Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Longwood, FL.

Vik’s Center is located at 1877 West State Road 434 Longwood, Florida.


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: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Newest Center in Atlanta, GA

We are excited to announce Ayten Mauk opening the doors of our newest Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Atlanta, GA.

Ayten’s Center is located at 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Rd. Unit 12A, Atlanta, GA 30346

This is Ayten’s first of three Expedia CruiseShipCenters to open!

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:Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Collaborates with Environics Analytics to Deliver Data-Driven Marketing Campaigns

Cruise Industry Leader Takes Innovative Approach to Consumer Marketing; Launches Best-in-Class Marketing Sales Strategies

April 01, 2019 // Franchising.com // Bellevue, Wash. – Expedia CruiseShipCenters, the leading cruise travel agency franchise in North America, has announced a collaboration with Canada’s premier data and analytics company, Environics Analytics. The marketing and data analytics company is applying the practice of market segmentation to aid the travel brand’s Franchise Partners in locating and understanding their existing and potential customers, which will allow them to target marketing campaigns more precisely and effectively in every media channel.

“Consumers want information and offers that are relevant, but to do that effectively, businesses need to know who their target customers are and where to find them,” said Jan Kestle, President and CEO of Environics Analytics. “Expedia CruiseShipCenters has done this very successfully, leveraging our high-quality data and analytical expertise to offer fresh insights about their customers and where they can find more like them.”

With this strategic initiative, Environics Analytics has identified and analyzed different consumer segments within established territories, providing Franchise Partners with a detailed understanding of their customer’s background, cruising preferences, the social media channels they use, and how they’re affected by different marketing media. Informed by these customer segmentation reports, Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Partners can now target their email marketing, digital marketing, and print marketing based on the concentration of consumer segments in their territory. This not only results in a higher rate of return on investment, but also ensures that each Center is sending out material and information about products that are of interest to consumers in their local community.

For potential franchisees entering the Expedia CruiseShipCenters system, the initiative will provide them with essential information to help make informed decisions of where to open their Center, as the segmentation reports will allow them to see which market areas have a higher density for potential customers.

“This is a step forward in our marketing strategy, and certainly a big advantage for Expedia CruiseShipCenters as we now have a deeper understanding of our customers, and of each Center’s market area potential,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “We’re always looking for new tools to support our Franchise Partners and to set them up for long-term success, and with our data-driven marketing approach, Franchise Partners can now identify how they can turn their marketing challenges into marketing successes.”

With the cruise travel industry expected to continue its rise throughout 2019, Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth is in part driven by this continued demand. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report, more than 30M passengers are expected to cruise in 2019 – a 34 percent increase from five years prior. Additionally, 24 new ocean, river and specialty ships are scheduled to debut this year, with more than 125 new ships coming online between now and 2027.

About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Expedia CruiseShipCenters provides exceptional value and expert advice for travelers booking cruises and vacations through its network of over 280 points of sale. As part of the Expedia Group family of brands, the company’s more than 6,000 Vacation Consultants facilitate the booking of 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. For more information on Expedia CruiseShipCenters, visit www.expediafranchise.com.

Expedia and CruiseShipCenters are trademarks or registered trademarks of Expedia, Inc. or its affiliates in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners. © 2019 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved. CST # 2029030-50 and CST # 20893-43

About Environics Analytics

Environics Analytics is one of North America’s premier marketing and analytical services companies. The company offers the full range of analytical services – from data supplier to strategic consultancy – and provides over-the-counter reports, purpose-built software-as-a-service and a wide variety of modelling approaches. Its team of quantitative marketers, modelers and geographers are expert at helping organizations identify their business challenges, develop data-driven solutions and achieve success along every phase of their analytics journey. To learn more about Environics Analytics, please visit www.environicsanalytics.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.

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In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Newest Center in London, ON

We are excited to announce Jim, Norma, and Malcolm Ferguson opening the doors of our newest Expedia CruiseShipCenters in London , ON. The Ferguson’s new Center is located at 3074 Wonderland Road South, London, ON N6L1A6.

This is their 3rd Expedia CruiseShipCenters location!

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: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Newest Center in Beverly, MA

We are excited to announce Mark Dawson opening the doors of our newest Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Beverly, MA. Mark’s Center is located at 47 Enon Street Unit #7 Beverly, MA 01915

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: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Newest Center in Palm Desert, CA

We are excited to announce Gary Kelb and Flavius Garmacea on opening the doors of our newest Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Palm Desert, CA.

Gary and Flavius’s Center is located at 73-091 Country Club Dr Suite A8, Palm Desert, CA

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.