Who is Expedia CruiseShipCenters?
Fast-growing travel franchise is one North America’s leading sellers of cruises
Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a full service travel agency franchise founded in 1987 that specializes in cruises but offers a full range of travel products. Our proven model has helped us achieve an average sales growth of 20% a year for more than two decades. While the Internet eliminated many other retail travel businesses, we have flourished.
In fact, 20 years of consistent growth attracted Expedia®, Inc. to invest in our franchise system in 2007. They knew that cruise vacations were more complex to book than other travel products being sold through their other online subsidiaries like Expedia.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Hotels.com. They also knew that cruisers felt more comfortable booking with a trusted professional; a cruise specialist who could help guide the way. So In 2007, Expedia, Inc. formed a partnership with CruiseShipCenters to tap into our network of brick-and-mortar locations and our travel agents who could offer personal service to cruise customers.
“So many storefront travel agencies from when we were kids have gone away,” says Jennifer White, who owns an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise location in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her husband, Kevin. “Shopping for travel online isn’t very fun. It’s choice overload and option overload, and a lot of people don’t have time to sift through it all — especially if they are looking for something that is tailored to them. Our customer service is a big advantage.”
Cruise customers have varying needs
While booking travel online can be stressful for any type of trip, it’s especially daunting for cruise vacationers. Hotel rooms, planes and rental cars are fairly cookie-cutter, so customers know what to expect — especially when traveling in North America. They are fairly comfortable booking trips online.
Cruises are different. First, they’re generally more expensive trips. The average cruise guest spends more than $2,000 on their vacation. Second, it’s a vacation! People want to have fun, enjoy experiences, and create memories. They like being able to speak to an experienced travel agent who is willing to take the time to learn their preferences and steer them toward the best travel options. Third, while you’re unlikely to notice much difference between flying on a commercial jetliner built in 1992 and a plane built in 2013, you’ll notice an incredible difference between cruise ships from those same years. In the case of a cruise line that has 20-year-old ships in its fleet, the difference between the newest and the oldest cruise ships can feel like the difference between a creaky 20-year-old computer and whatever device you’re reading this on today. At the same time, a kid-friendly cruise perfect for a young family may be inappropriate for a newlywed couple celebrating their honeymoon, and a cruise that’s perfect for Millennials looking to party might be a nightmare cruise for a group of retirees who want to relax.
Customers want to know what they are getting. Picking the best cruise ship and planning the right itinerary can head off potential problems and disappointments and transform a nice vacation into an extraordinary vacation.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ CruiseDesk® software platform, corporate support, marketing resources, and continuous training enable franchisees and their teams to provide incredible deals and customer service, says Brenna Maurer, who owns two locations in Las Vegas with her husband, Dan.
“We are really able to give concierge service with Expedia pricing,” Brenna says. “Those in the corporate office in Vancouver believe that if you touch a customer’s heart and understand their dreams enough to make them happen, the money will follow. A call center or an online booking service can never do that.”
Expedia CruiseShipCenters: An award-winning franchise system
Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a leading seller of cruises in North America. We've been recognized as a top seller with every major cruise line and have been named a Top 50 franchise by Franchise Business Review and in Entrepreneur magazine's Franchise500. In 2010, we were inducted into the Canadian Franchise Association's Hall of Fame for our continued excellence in franchising. With a dominating market share in Canada, our franchise opportunity is now expanding rapidly throughout the United States, with plans to add 300 locations in the next 5 years.
Our corporate support staff currently consists of 115+ people who work together to secure promotional deals from cruise lines, build marketing campaigns and materials, and continuously develop new programs that will help our franchisees boost their profitability.
“So much sets Expedia CruiseShipCenters apart: the strength of their technology, their commitment to their franchisees, the open-minded culture,” says Joyce Ripka, a former accountant who owns an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise. “Their door is always open for us to make recommendations. I get a lot of support from my fellow Franchise Partners, as well. The corporate support team always keeps us well-informed and are really willing to help us grow our business.”