How one man’s quest for a better quality of life led to a second career as an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner
John McIntyre was looking to own a business with his wife after he decided to leave the energy industry. He found Expedia CruiseShipCenters to be a perfect opportunity to combine his love of travel with his unique business skill set. John is determined to grow his business at his own pace, as he is aware the life of a Franchise Owner is a long-term commitment. John is an admitted workaholic, however, working on the goal of running his own business has improved the quality of his life. His Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise location in Calgary, Canada, is a viable, profitable business.
This is his story.
What were you doing before becoming an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Owner?
My career had been in a leadership position in the energy industry here in Calgary. I had my own consulting business. However, like many people, my career had stalled. I learned about Expedia CruiseShipCenters through the Canadian Franchise Association and in my own online research. I had been looking at completely different businesses other than travel, but when an opportunity fell through, Expedia CruiseShipCenters was next on my list.
What made you want to open one?
I really liked the business model. I liked the senior leadership team; when we met them, I was quite impressed. Also, I think they have a great brand. The systems and technologies that support the franchisees are strong. My wife and I had never been on a cruise before, and so we thought if we are going to invest all of this money into a business, we need to experience it as consumers. When we got off the boat, we signed the contract. The cruise was the icing on the cake, and we knew this business would add quality to our lives.
What do you enjoy the most about the business, your staff and your customers?
I really enjoy the challenges this business presents every day. Even though this is a small business, it is complicated in that you have to put a lot of things together and make them work. I don’t see a big difference between what my demands were in a leadership position in the energy industry and what I’m doing now. I find that I have to use all of my leadership skills all of the time. This is a good fit for me.
As far as staff goes, we have a great group of consultants, all of whom have a giving spirit.
What customers does Expedia CruiseShipCenters draw?
The customers are what I like to call experiential travelers. They want to experience new cultures, get to know the history of a different place, eat the food, and drink the beverages. They don’t want a vacation so much as they want a cultural experience.
How do you recruit travel consultants to support the growth of your business?
We use a number of mechanisms to attract the right people. We advertise locally in our newspapers, and we also print fliers. We look for friends of consultants. We get the word out that recruitment is an evergreen process. We also recruit via our website, as well as host Discovery Nights at our office.
What are the key activities that drive results for an owner, and what are the biggest challenges?
Investing in your sales team and your workforce. I spend a lot of time training them not only on the aspects of the job, but also building their interpersonal skills. Their main job is to find out what the customers want.
Finding the right talent is a constant challenge. I want positive people who have a passion for travel. I want team players who have an entrepreneurial spirit. I always ask potential consultants to give me an example of when and how they were a team player. I look for people who have an ability to engage with people — people who are “people’s people,” so to speak. Finding the right people and establishing expectations is always a challenge.
What does a typical day look like in the business?
A typical day for me begins at 7 a.m. I come in to the office, and I take a look at my e-mails, of which there is usually a significant amount. I have meetings and conversations with consultants, suppliers and other Franchise Owners. What I don’t do is sell travel. Any business that I develop, I pass on to my consultants. I focus the majority of my time on how I can drive more business to my office.
What were your goals for your business and how it would affect your life?
Our goals were to prove to ourselves that we could start our own business and make it financially viable. We have done that. We are turning a profit, and I see this as a long-term investment that needs to be grown. Another goal of ours was to travel and see parts of the world we once only dreamed about. We have done that, too.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I’m an admitted workaholic, so I don’t look outside too much for fun. We love to travel by ourselves or with our friends. We do a fair bit with our church, which makes me happy. We also camp occasionally in the Rocky Mountains, which is a great way to relax. Calgary has a great theatre scene, and so we go see shows a fair amount.
Would you recommend Expedia CruiseShipCenters to someone thinking about starting a business and if so, why?
I would if that person is a people person who has a passion for travel. The corporate team helps in terms of national promoting and marketing. They continually develop and invest in our technology. They also have provided us with learning and training programs, and they believe in our ability to be successful.