In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters President Featured in Benzinga

Cruise Industry Embarks On ‘The Golden Age Of Cruising’

This story appeared in the August 2017 edition of Benzinga.com

After a rough 2016, the major players in the cruise industry have experienced a dramatic comeback in 2017, as the “golden age of cruising” sails into industry experts’ view.

Three of the major industry players have turned in sizeable gains so far this year: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd shares are up 34 percent year to date, Carnival Corp shares are up 30 percent and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has turned in a 46 percent gain.

Rapid Growth Expectations

“Just in the next 10 years, we look to go from 25 million cruisers to 38 million by 2027,” said Expedia CruiseShipCenters President Matthew Eichhorst. “Cruising has moved from being a North American product to a more global product, in Europe and Asia particularly.”

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has capitalized on the optimism surrounding the industry by adding 1,000 agents this year.

“We have had a year of very positive growth numbers. A year prior there was global uncertainty, but now we see no signs of the recovery slowing down. Cruising isn’t for just retirees any more; the product has dramatically changed,” Eichhorst told Benzinga.

Several of the big cruise liners are capitalizing on the industry growth by adding new ships. Walt Disney Co is expected to nearly double its fleet by building three new ships in the coming years.

Virgin Enters The Market

Another exciting entrant into the market is Virgin Voyages, expected to open for business in 2021. Virgin’s disruptive approach when entering new markets could help push the industry forward as a whole to improve the product and experience. Eichhorst predicts the company headquarters will be in Miami.

“It’s exciting because when Richard Branson enters a market, it is going to create a lot of noise in the industry,” he said.

“Virgin has tried to enter the market in the past. Branson has a way of doing things his own unique way — instead of doing a partnership, he is going to go all in a product that people are going to find very compelling and exciting.”

New Panama Canal

Another key catalyst driving the cruise industry’s growth is the widening of the Panama Canal, which opened up in the first half of 2017. Two new sets of locks were added, part of a nine-year canal expansion project that will enable not only bigger cargo ships, but allows many of the world’s biggest cruise ships to pass through, cutting off the extra 8,000 miles it would take to sail around Cape Horn.

“Historically, you could not get these big ships to the West Coast. With the New Panama Canal, you will see West Coast cruising ships expand and we will are going to see a lot of new cruise travel to Mexico,” Eichhorst said.

Given macroeconomic and industry trends, it appears to be smooth sailing for an industry on the rebound, he said.

“I am more excited about the next 10 years than I ever have about the business. Cruising is going to become mainstream.”

Click here to read this article on Benzinga.com

Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about owning a business with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Merrick Franchise Owner Featured in Forbes

From Cop To Cruise Franchisee: Joyce Mariner Turns A Passion Into A Second Career

This story appeared in the July 2017 edition of Forbes.com

Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Merrick, Franchise Partner, Joyce Mariner.

As a career coach, I hear from a lot of aspiring career changers, as well as people looking to turn a passion into a career. Joyce Mariner has done both. Mariner started at the NYPD in 1988 and worked various units – Patrol, Narcotics, Robbery, Precinct Detective Squad –culminating with six years in Homicide as a 1st Grade Detective. Her husband, Gary Mariner, also worked for the NYPD as part of the prestigious mounted horseback unit. When they retired from the force in 2013, they didn’t want to retire from work altogether, so researched different businesses to start. Having taken more than 40 cruises together, the Mariners decided on an Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel agency franchise and opened their Center in 2015. They have seen continuous growth in the first two years, with 66% growth last year! I connected with Joyce about her and Gary’s impressive second act, and here were my favorite takeaways:

Look to your interests and priorities

“I tried being a housewife for a couple of months, but found that this was not one of my greatest strengths! My love for travel and the desire to visit all the places on my bucket list were the reasons I had to find something in my next career that allowed me to pursue my passion.” – Joyce Mariner

Photo credit: JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images

Mariner had a bucket list and picked her next career to suit that life. How can you incorporate your life priorities into your career choices?

Build on your skills

“People say it sounded so different from my previous career, but it’s still a service-oriented field…. At first, the thought of becoming a travel agent seemed to be a great career change – I had training and experience of interviewing people, as long as I remembered to separate my interviewing and interrogating skills.” – Joyce Mariner

That Mariner can tap into years of working narcotics and murder cases and translate that into fulfilling people’s vacation dreams is proof positive that all careers have translatable skills, and you can make extreme switches in industry. It could be service orientation and interviewing skills, as Mariner mentioned. Attention to detail and exhaustive research (formerly looking for case clues and now looking for travel deals) are other skills I can see that translate well. How can you break down your day-to-day skills so they fit another, very different industry?

Put in the time

“One of the great opportunities of working in the Police Department was that it afforded us more than five weeks of vacation time a year – this is what allowed my passion for travel to blossom. My husband and I took two cruises a year during our time with the NYPD, traveling to exotic destinations like the South Pacific, China, Europe, Baltics, Caribbean, and the Panama Canal.” – Joyce Mariner

Notice that the time the Mariners put in towards their second career in the cruise industry included vacation time while in their first career. How can you use your free time – evenings, weekends, vacations – to focus on your next career?

Find support systems

“The franchise industry allowed me to go into business for myself but not by myself – by following Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ proven system and leaning on my interviewing skills to excel in customer service, I knew I’d find success as a travel agency business owner.” – Joyce Mariner

Franchising is how the Mariners got support for their business. Specifically, Joyce Mariner pointed to the Expedia brand name in travel and the training, ongoing support, collective buying power (along with the other franchises), use of an established business model and marketing and advertising support as key benefits. I have seen career changers use numerous other support structures – for example, a training or certification program as a way to build and test skills; volunteer experience to get firsthand experience; or a side hustle in a field they already know as a way to practice entrepreneurship. What support structure can you use to start your career change journey?

Find supportive people

“It took a lot of self-reflection, but when I knew I was ready to make the career change, I found most value in speaking with other small business owners within the travel agency sphere. This allowed me to dig deeper into the challenges, opportunities, day-to-day responsibilities, and of course words of wisdom and advice. Collecting all this background information made me feel confident in my decision to make the career change and helped me build a network of support to guide me on this journey.” – Joyce Mariner

That Mariner surrounded herself with other business owners and particularly travel agency owners shows how changing your network can help change your career. Mariner points to the information and support benefits. I also find that career changers who immerse themselves in a new network of people already doing what they want to do get constant reinforcement that their new career goal is doable. How can you expand your relationships to support your career change?

Put in the work

“I spend six days a week in my business, usually up to nine hours a day. Each day, I am managing my back-office duties – doing commissions and bills and accounting, and I’m planning events and monthly team meetings. I’m training consultants, and then on top of that I’m recruiting new consultants. I enjoy being very hands-on and involved in constantly updating the whole team on any news and checking in on their progress with leads and new bookings. Being so engrained in the business and helping every consultant achieve their full-potential has significantly contributed to our Center’s ongoing success.” – Joyce Mariner

Every job, even the “fun” ones like travel agent, comes with grunt work. Getting involved in the nitty gritty is a good way to see if your hobby is indeed a viable business or better off as a hobby. How can you take on more in your target career?

Just do it

“The most important thing I’ve learned during my career in law enforcement is that life is too short – if you have a vision and see something you want, go for it . I always want to be remembered as the woman who never said, “would have, could have, should have.” Discover your passion, build your skills, find a support system, stay determined.” – Joyce Mariner

Click here to read this article on Forbes.com

Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about owning a business with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters President Featured in Travel Market Report

Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

Headquarters Happenings: Dominant In Canada, Expedia CruiseShipCenters Targets U.S. Market

This story appeared in the April 2017 edition of Travel Market Report.

Editor’s Note: Headquarters Happenings is a regular feature that keeps you updated on the major travel agencies, host agencies, travel agency consortia, cooperatives, travel networks and franchise groups. Top executives detail how their groups grow their businesses and how their initiatives can help travel agents succeed.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is looking for a few good leaders – 262 of them, to be precise. That’s how many new franchise owners it needs to meet its goal of more than doubling its cruise agency store locations by the year 2020. And to be clear, it wants those new franchisees to be leaders – sales team leaders – more than travel sellers.

Matthew Eichhorst, president of the 30-year-old franchisor, has no doubt Expedia CruiseShipCenters will meet its growth goals. The company offers a “proven system” that allows its franchisees to grow “profitable and valuable” storefront agencies, he said, quoting from its mission statement. And interest among potential franchise owners is high.

The market opportunity is there too, especially in the United States, where Canada-based Expedia CruiseShipCenters is focusing its expansion. “Coming into the U.S., there’s more opportunity,” said Eichhorst. Also fueling his optimism is the rate of cruise industry growth, with dozens of new ships coming online and an expected 10 million new passengers on the horizon.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth plans were top of mind for Eichhorst when he spoke with Travel Market Report, not long after wrapping up the annual national conference in early April. It was held aboard the Celebrity Reflection, under the theme Leading the Way.

‘A system that works’

Expedia CruiseShipCenters currently has 218 locations, with another 20 in the pipeline. Roughly two-thirds of its stores are in Canada, where more than 20% of cruisers buy through Expedia CruiseShipCenters, he said.

The other third of its stores are in the United States, and the franchisor intends to grow that percentage to 50% in short order, said Eichhorst, who has been with CruiseShipCenters since before it was acquired by Expedia Inc. in 2007. (Last year, he was named global cruise leader for all of Expedia.)

ExpediaCruiseShip Centers boasts 4,750 travel agents, counting both franchise owners and the independent agents, or vacation consultants, who make up their teams. In 2016, they generated CA$740 million in sales (about US$560 million). About 41% of “mature” store owners have multiple locations, and the average store has about 25 independent agents.

By design, nearly all Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owners are new to the travel industry when they sign on. Eichhorst said that’s because experienced travel sellers are likely to have a hard time adopting the franchisor’s way of doing things. “We have a system, and the system works,” he said. Like most franchises, it “almost runs as a corporate entity,” with look-alike stores and franchisees united on a shared technology platform.

Instead of seeking new owners who have industry experience or deep skills in any one area, the franchisor looks for individuals with strong leadership qualities who are prepared to focus on recruiting and training new agents. Nor does it expect its store owners to become top-selling agents. The business model describes franchise owners’ prime customers as their independent travel agents, and consumers as the prime customers of the agents.

It is this strategy that has fueled Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ accelerating growth and allowed its franchise owners to build saleable businesses, Eichhorst said. It also has endeared Expedia CruiseShipCenters to the cruise lines: “Suppliers our love our model. We bring new people to the business and that brings new cruisers.”

Devoted to cruise

Vacation consultants for Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchises can expect to earn top-tier commissions thanks to the company’s volume, as well as additional revenue selling Expedia.com’s non-cruise products. They also gain access to the franchisor’s group inventory on 2,000-plus sailings.

Franchise owners and their agents also benefit from a comprehensive digital marketing program that provides personalized websites and access to Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ promotions. “We have about 4 million people in our in database. We use all those contacts and execute a pretty sophisticated marketing system online,” Eichhorst said.

Owners and agents also do their own local marketing, especially in their spheres of influence, such as local golf communities and church groups.

Unlike some other cruise agency groups, Expedia CruiseShipCenters remains devoted to cruise, netting about 65% of its sales from cruises and 23% from hotel add-ons. “We don’t chase the non-cruiser from a marketing perspective,” Eichhorst said. But if customers want to try something other than a cruise on their next vacation, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will service them fully – and indeed, having access to Expedia.com’s enormous non-cruise inventory is a “huge differentiator.”

Franchisees reap the branding halo effect generated by Expedia Inc.’s outsized presence and its $3 billion annual marketing budget. The travel giant also invests about $1 billion in technology every year; that gives Expedia CruiseShipCenters access to great hotel, air and activities booking engines “so we can really focus on spending in the cruise space,” Eichhorst said.

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Developing the team

Among the Expedia CruiseShipCenters programs that franchise owners prize most, according to Eichhorst, is its technology platform. Of particular value are detailed analytics at the store level. “For example, they see their team profile of, say, 25 agents, divided into four quadrants: growth potential, top producers, low producers and growth risk. We have metrics and coaching programs for each of those segments, so they can change the way they lead.”

Training webinars for owners are offered in four key areas: 1) business planning and performance; 2) recruiting and onboarding new agents; 3) marketing and promotions; and 4) sales team leadership and recognition.

A step-by-step sales training program called the Navigators Approach includes leadership tools and train-the-trainer workshops to help owners teach the franchisor’s sales method to their agents. Owners also get content for monthly in-store team meetings, and “performance coaches” help owners develop their managerial and coaching skills.

Looking ahead

At this year’s national conference at sea, nearly 400 participants celebrated Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ accomplishments over its 30-year history, then turned their attention to “leading the way” into the future.

The conversation revolved around how to be more customer-centric so that franchisees provide “the best research experience, the best purchase experience and the best service experience” for consumers. “That’s really how we’re going to differentiate ourselves,” Eichhorst said. “The other big thrust is how do we combine high tech with high touch.”

While franchisee owners said they worry about keeping up with the pace of change, Eichhorst is most concerned about maintaining the culture of Expedia CruiseShipCenters amid rapid growth.

“How do we think big but act small to keep the culture of that close-knit family? I think our system works. My number-one thing is how do I keep this organization as fantastic as it is?”

Click here to read this article on Travel Market Report

Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about owning a business with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

The Value of an Annual Franchise Conference

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 a sun-drenched cruise in the Caribbean it’s an opportunity to come together to celebrate our successes after a record-setting year in 2016 and gear up for our best year ever in 2017.

Nearly 400 franchise owners attended our 2017 National Conference onboard Celebrity Reflection!

In April, nearly 400 franchise owners attended our 2017 National Conference onboard Celebrity Reflection.

This April, we welcomed nearly 400 of our franchise owners, travel industry executives and Corporate team, onboard the Celebrity Reflection for a roundtrip Eastern Caribbean sailing from Miami. 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 theme this year was “Leading the Way,” as we continually work towards being the best we can be and the best in the entire industry.

“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. “This year we reflected on our thirty years in business and identified strategic initiatives to replicate and surpass our recent achievements.”

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, 80’s 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. We had a lot to celebrate this year including 30 successful years of navigating spectacular vacation experiences.

Award recipients at our Awards Dinner Gala held each year at National Conference.

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 230 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 downloading our Free Franchise Report by completing the form below.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Forecasts Wave of Franchise Growth in 2017

Cruise Industry Leader Looks to Build upon Record Setting 2016

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Tustin was one of 33 new locations to open in 2016. Photo credit: Anthony Wang & the Tustin Chamber of Commerce.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Tustin, CA was one of 33 new locations to open in 2016. Photo credit: Anthony Wang & the Tustin Chamber of Commerce.

 

BELLEVUE, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The top cruise travel agency franchise in North America, Expedia CruiseShipCentersannounced a record-setting year after ending 2016 with exciting growth. The brick and mortar travel agency chain achieved over $560 million in gross bookings in 2016, with 18% year-over-year growth in fourth quarter gross bookings. The brand also opened 33 new franchise locations and welcomed 1,300 new Vacation Consultants to their network last year. Looking forward to 2017, Expedia CruiseShipCenters expects another record-setting year with 40 new franchise openings projected.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters experienced several major shifts in 2016 that provided a strong foundation for the brand to deepen and expand its roots. From the brand’s President, Matthew Eichhorst, assuming a new role with the Expedia group as the head of global cruise, to members of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters team receiving recognition at international industry events, like Christine Brown’s Rising Star award, the brand is poised to reach its goal of 500 operating locations over the next five years. At every level of leadership within the organization, members are keeping a finger on the pulse of the rapidly changing and thriving cruise industry.

“As we celebrate our 30th year in business, we’re reflecting on all that we’ve done to bring Expedia CruiseShipCenters to the forefront of the cruise industry, and how we’ve stood behind our commitment to deliver professional expertise and a fantastic service experience to each and every customer,” said Eichhorst. “The outlook on the cruise industry continues to strengthen as technology and new innovative approaches to the decades-old trend inspire generation after generation of travelers. The last year was just as impressive for the industry as it was for our brand.”

In 2016, the brand was honored to receive the following awards from cruise line partners: Celebrity Cruises’ North American Partner of the Year, Royal Caribbean International’s National Partner of the Year, Norwegian’s Franchise Partner of the Year and Carnival Cruises’ Outstanding Cruise Rookie Partner. Rounding out a strong year of accolades, the brand was also featured in Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 Franchises.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth is in part driven by the recent resurgence in the cruising industry. As noted in the recent Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report, cruises are being offered at lower prices leading to an increase in travelers booking vacations; passenger volume on cruise ships is up nine percent from one year ago. The study also estimates 25.3M passengers are expected to cruise in 2017, up from 15.8M just 10 years prior. Additionally, CLIA reports that 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships are scheduled to debut in the coming year resulting in a total investment of more than $6.8B in new vessels.

With the brand’s proven business model – affordable to start and extremely scalable – combined with its focus on providing spectacular customer service and the rapid growth of the cruise industry overall, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is looking to award 40 new franchises in 2017. The leading travel company is seeking franchisees across the United States, with particular focus on Washington, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and New York which the company has identified as key markets for development. These states, within easy driving distance of cruise departure ports, provide the ideal foundation for a new travel agency franchise.

For more information about franchise opportunities with Expedia CruiseShipCenters continue learning about our travel agency franchise opportunity here.

 

In the News: Mill Creek Franchise Owner Featured in HeraldNet

Ricardo Pruneda opened an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center in August. Expedia currently operates 233 locations in the U.S. and Canada. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Ricardo Pruneda opened an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center in August. Expedia currently operates 233 locations in the U.S. and Canada. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Expedia CruiseShipCenter franchise opens in Mill Creek

This story appeared in the January 2017 edition of HeraldNet.

Expedia, the Internet’s favorite go-to source for self-booking travel, has found a port in downtown Mill Creek for curious and intrepid travelers ready to hit the high seas with a more personalized touch.

Ricardo Pruneda opened his Expedia CruiseShipCenter in the Mill Creek Town Center at last summer.

An Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise is seen in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

An Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise is seen in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

“We were the 200th franchise to open” in North America, said Pruneda, 44. “It’s a real honor.”

The Canadian CruiseShipCenters chain was launched in 1987, and acquired by Expedia. in 2007.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters currently have 233 total locations with more than 160 in Canada and five locations in Washington.

(Expedia has only two brick-and-mortar, storefront brands: the CruiseShipCenters and the much smaller Expedia Local Expert storefronts in Hawaii and Florida.)

Pruneda has spent the past 20 years in sales and sales management.

But he wanted to own his own business. He was born in Mexico City with dual citizenship and moved to Florida as a child. His father was a plumber and built his own company.

“What a thing to achieve,” says Pruneda. “It’s always kind of been there for me.”

He moved to Seattle in 2002 to be closer to his sweetheart. They married, and now have a 5-year-old daughter. When describing his job to her, he says, “Now daddy helps other families spend time together.”

Pruneda’s location at 15415 Main St., No. 104, is currently staffed by seven agents, but he hopes to have 20 to 30 in the future.

(Pruneda declined to provide the average monthly revenue, saying its a new franchise.)

He fondly recalled visiting the Vancouver CruiseShipCenters location for interviews and a ‘Discovery Day’ – a corporate visit to help understand the culture for the Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

“It felt like the perfect fit,” he said, describing the passion his colleagues have for planning vacations for clients.

Pruneda hand-picked the location himself, and said he is grateful to the community for being friendly and welcoming. People see the signs outside, stop by, and say hello.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise model isn’t built simply on cruises. Its goal is to be a beginning-to-end travel planner.

A board listing current cruise ship vacation deals is seen at an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

A board listing current cruise vacation deals is seen at an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Mill Creek Town Center. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Although a cruise may be the “meat” of certain vacations, there are travel plans to get there — planes, trains, automobiles — things to do while away from home, and, of course, other sorts of trips that don’t ever entail getting on a ship.

As a full-service travel agency, it also offers services such as planning personal family vacations, wedding locations and honeymoons, business retreats and more.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters stores can help with overwhelming aspects of planning cruises. Travel agents can save vacationers on average more than $450 on trips and four hours of time on planning, according to the American Society of Travel Agents.

“Giving your trip planning over to another human being is the No. 1 way to feel confident that you are getting the best trip possible,” said Pruneda.

When asked what surprised him the most about his current franchise, Pruneda mentioned that he loves the passion of his clientele.

“Cruisers,” he called them, mentioning that they wear cruises — seasons, trips, lines — like badges of honor. “I love being a part of this club now.”

Click here to read this article on HeraldNet.com

 

Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about owning a business with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

An Incredible Year in Review

Another Record Breaking Year for Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Caption needed

Expedia CruiseShipCenters opened 34 new retail travel agency locations and added 1,200 Vacation Consultants to its network in 2016.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we’re continually working towards being the largest retail network across North America. Over the course of 2016 we have been actively expanding our brand throughout North America and providing the best tools and systems to our franchise owners to continue to grow a profitable and valuable travel business. As we enter into our 30th year in business we’re proud to share another year of records and even more excitement on the horizon.

Further Growth Coast to Coast

2016 was a record year for new Center openings for us as we opened 34 new retail travel agency locations and added 1,200 new Vacation Consultants to our ever expanding network! We’re not even close to being finished growing throughout North America as we have major growth plans to open a further 40 locations in the year ahead. In 2017, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will be coming to communities in California, Florida, New York, Texas and Utah to name a few!

We have plans for further growth across North America and have prime territories available in the United States where 75% of the population lives within driving distance of a cruise port. There’s huge potential for franchise ownership in Florida, Texas, California, Washington and New York as these states are home to 60% of North American cruisers.

Another Award Winning Year

The partnerships we continue to build and nurture with our partners is something we take a great deal of pride in and value greatly. Expedia CruiseShipCenters was ranked as a top franchise on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list and named as a top franchise opportunity by Franchise Business Review. We’re honored to also be recognized with the following awards from a few of our biggest travel partners:

Celebrity Cruises: North American Partner of the Year

Norwegian Cruise Line: 2016 Franchise Partner of the Year

Carnival Cruises: Outstanding Cruise Rookie Partner

christine_brown

Cruise Sales Manager, Christine Brown, was awarded with Cruise Line International Association’s Rising Star Award.

In addition to our system-wide awards, we were thrilled to see one of our own Cruise Sales Managers in Las Vegas, Christine Brown, be honored by Cruise Lines International Association with the Rising Star Award! This award recognizes Christine’s passion for travel, strong relationships with her clients and her overall impact on the travel agent landscape overall. Congratulations Christine!

Expedia CruiseShipCenters in the News

In addition to an appearance on FOX & Friends and in Entrepreneur Magazine, Expedia CruiseShipCenters was also featured in the American Society of Travel Agents’ news-style documentary, Travel Agents Taking Off! In the film, reporter Jarret Hill highlights the continued rise of the travel agent in the film and interviews President, Matthew Eichhorst along with a visit to the Expedia CruiseShipCenters retail location in Bellevue, Washington.

2017 is the year to Open Your Expedia Franchise

There’s never been a better time to go into business with the most recognized brand in travel as CLIA expects 25.3 million passengers to cruise in 2017! In the year ahead, 26 new ships are scheduled to debut as demand for cruising has steadily increased 62% over the last ten years and as more travelers will be seeking the expert advice available from using a trusted travel agent. Over the past year we’ve seen our passengers increase by 9% with further growth anticipated for 2017.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise system is built upon a proven model designed to support franchise owners achieve their lifestyle, income and business goals. Our franchise model is designed to support individuals with little or no experience in the cruise industry and help them build and grow a successful travel business and achieve their income, lifestyle and business ownership goals. For 30 years, we’ve been dedicated to navigating spectacular vacation experiences from our 225 franchise locations. We look forward to further growing our team in 2017 and becoming the trusted cruise retail network for all travelers across North America.

Continue Learning About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about owning a business with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters Featured in Daily Business Review

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Cruise Travel Agency Betting on Brick and Mortar

This story appeared on www.dailybusinessreview.com

At a time when retailers are shrinking brick and mortar operations, a Canadian cruise franchise is doing the opposite.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters, a full-service travel agency specializing in cruises, has plans to open 10 Florida stores over the next three to five years. At least three of those stores will be located in South Florida, said company president Matthew Eichhorst.

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“Florida is a huge cruise market,” Eichhorst said. The Sunshine State is home to two of the nation’s busiest ports, Port Miami and Port Everglades. In 2014, Florida’s ports handled 62 percent of all passenger embarkations in the U.S., with cruise activity in Miami leading the way, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that tracks the industry.

Vancouver-based Expedia CruiseShipCenters, a subsidiary of Expedia Inc., aims to double its Florida storefronts. Its target expansion plan includes five locations in the tri-county area, three locations in the greater Orlando area and three in the Tampa Bay area, in addition to an opening in Boca Raton later this year.

The expansion is part of an ambitious goal to have 500 stores in North America over the next five years. There are currently 166 in Canada and 59 in the U.S.
Eichhorst said the Expedia brand helps boost the franchise’s position within the travel agency marketplace.

“We’re generally way ahead in that space just because the smaller travel agency can’t make the same investment on all the tools” and technology the company uses, he said.

The stores are generally 800 to 1,000 square feet in size, while the largest locations may reach up to 2,000 square feet. Each store is operated by about 25 agents.

Travel agent usage hit a six-year high in 2016, with a third of millennial travelers reportedly booking trips through an agent, according to a recent study by MMGY Global. Other studies show that over 70 percent of cruises are actually booked through an agent rather than online—a rosy statistic for cruise travel agencies operating in a dot-com era.

“Having a storefront and customer service is a big advantage when people don’t have time to sift through the internet to plan a vacation, especially if they are looking for something that is tailored to them,” said Jennifer White, who operates a franchise store in Fort Lauderdale.

“I like to think it’s the complexity of the product itself,” Eichhorst said, adding that amenities and destinations differ greatly among the numerous ship offerings. “We strongly believe that Florida’s thriving cruise market combined with passionate franchisees has great potential to bring continued success to our growing brand.”

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Saluting Our Veterans

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Offers $5,800 Franchise Discount For Veterans & First Responders

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters is proud to introduce a new program offering Veterans and First Responders a $5,800 discount on our initial franchise fee!

We are seeking people with an entrepreneurial spirit and a love of travel to open Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise locations in their communities. Veterans and first responders are a great fit for our model since they have the skill set that is necessary to run and manage a streamlined and efficient business. Plus, they have the drive to translate our tested system into a successful business. Learn more about how to take advantage of our $5,800 discount here.

Q&A with Larry & Chris Dettmer  |  United States Air Force Veterans

Larry and Chris Dettmer, Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owners in Florence, KY, are just one example of Veterans who have been putting our proven model to work for them in their community since they opened their doors in 2014. Here’s what they had to say about their experience so far.

testimonial3What made you decide to buy a franchise?
Chris and I met in the Air Force – I was an Inventory Management Specialist and she was a Security Police Shift Commander. After working nearly 20 years in insurance sales and sales management and with both of our kids raised, we had an opportunity to separate from the corporate world and fulfill our dream owning our own business. We felt it was the perfect time to take a chance on something that would allow us to control our future.

Why did you choose an Expedia franchise?
When Chris and I decided to start our own business it didn’t take long to decide on Expedia CruiseShipCenters. We both have a deep passion for travel and were familiar with booking our trips through Expedia. So the opportunity to start a business with the most recognized name in travel was very appealing. Visiting the corporate offices in Vancouver convinced us that Expedia CruiseShipCenters was the company for us. Their proven business model combined with the corporate and field support have given us the tools we need to build a successful business. We’ve been open for almost 2 years and our commitment to executing the business plan has resulted in our Center hitting the expected growth benchmarks. The future is bright and we are very excited to part of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters brand.

How has your military training helped with running your business?
To serve and protect our country was a tremendous honor. The military taught us discipline and commitment for the purpose of making a difference. Being a successful Franchise Partner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters requires the same skill set and passion for making a difference for travelers in our local community.

What advice do you have for military vets and first responders who might be considering a franchise?
Expedia CruiseShipCenters offers an exciting opportunity for anyone with service experience. Just like the military, Expedia CruiseShipCenters relies on effective planning and precision execution. As an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Partner, you will be given all the tools and support to successfully grow your business and your sales team.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
We are both really excited about the future. By the end of our 5th year, it is our goal to have a team of 40+ Vacation Consultants with annual sales exceeding the suggested benchmarks. We also want to eventually have full time Office Manager, which will allow us more time for personal travel.

Are you a Veteran or First Responder?

If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams by applying your strong leadership, dedication and service in a travel agency franchise, Expedia CruiseShipCenters could be a great fit. Working as your own boss, you’ll serve travelers in your local community by navigating spectacular vacation experiences every day. Plus, you’ll save $5,800 on our initial franchise fee!

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about Expedia CruiseShipCenters, download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our franchise opportunity here.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Announces Expansion Plans for Florida

Leading Travel Franchise Seeks to Add 10 New Locations in the Sunshine State Over Coming Years

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KEY WEST, Fla.– (BUSINESS WIRE) –Announcing targeted expansion, Expedia CruiseShipCenters unveiled a plan to bring additional travel franchise locations to Florida. Joining 10 locations already operating in the state, the leading travel franchise brand plans to add at least 10 more locations throughout Fort Lauderdale, Miami, greater Orlando and the Tampa Bay area over the next three to five years.

Folded into an overall growth vision for the brand, the new Florida locations are key to Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ goal to reach the 500 location milestone in North America over the next five years. Florida’s expansion is building off of the success and efforts of local franchisees like Jennifer and Kevin White in Imperial Point. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is working towards its five year growth plan by targeting areas with thriving travel industries to develop its strong network of franchise owners. The brand’s target expansion plans include five locations in the Miami metropolitan area, three locations in the greater Orlando area and three in the Tampa Bay area, in addition to an opening in Boca Raton later this year.

“Florida has been a great market for Expedia CruiseShipCenters and has shown our franchisees a lot of success. Within the next few years, we plan to double our presence in the state by working with local entrepreneurs to bring our growing brand to their communities,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “We strongly believe that Florida’s thriving cruise market combined with passionate franchisees has great potential to bring continued success to our growing brand.”

The Sunshine State is home to two of the nation’s busiest cruise ports, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, as well as three other terminals. With nearly 80 ships and 8.6 million cruisers being processed in Fort Lauderdale and Miami each year, Florida is a hub of travel lovers and consumers creating ideal demographics for Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

Cruises are becoming increasingly popular because they offer comfort and convenience while making it easy for people to visit several exotic locations on a single trip. According to Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that conducts continual analysis of the industry, the demand for cruising has increased 68 percent in the last ten years. The association also points out that the U.S. economic impact of the cruise industry is larger than ever — at $42 billion annually. Cruise lines have responded to that growth by commissioning the construction of more than 65 new ships that are on pace to set sail over the next five years.

With over 225 retail locations already open or under development, the Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ franchise network is rapidly expanding. The Whites are key examples of the varied backgrounds the brand’s franchisees come from. Prior to opening an Expedia CruiseShipCenters location, Jennifer taught special education in Broward County for 13 years, while Kevin worked in sales at a charter airline, Miami Air. They attribute their success to building relationships with local travelers and creating ‘Customers For Life.’

“We wanted a career change that combined our love for travel with the challenge of taking on an entrepreneurial role. We came across Expedia CruiseShipCenters while looking for a new business opportunities and loved the support we receive from corporate,” said Imperial Point, Florida franchisee Jennifer White. “With a well-known brand like Expedia, we appreciated the business and marketing plans that were already in place as well as the fact that we are not a dot-com. Having a store front and customer service is a big advantage when people don’t have time to sift through the internet to plan a vacation—especially if they are looking for something that is tailored to them.”

On track to open 36 new locations by the end of this year, Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to provide business opportunities for driven team leaders like the Whites who want to build income, wealth and equity in a retail business they are passionate about. To continue learning about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, inquire below or continue learning here.