The cruise industry is booming, and more and more customers turn to Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners to book their vacations
According to Cruise Lines International Association, 90% of cruisers say that they will cruise again. With more than 22.2 million people worldwide expected to take a cruise in 2015 and 65 new cruise ships to enter the market by the end of 2020 (CLIA, 2014); the demand for cruise specialists like our Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners will continue to grow.
As major cruise lines expand their offerings and level of service — from family cruises to romantic destination cruises — cruising is increasingly popular. For many, it’s a laid-back and enjoyable way to see the world, one exotic location at a time. In fact, the data gathering website, Statistica, reports that cruising has become so popular that in 2014, revenue for the worldwide cruising industry reached over $37 billion, which is nearly $1 billion more than revenue generated in 2013. The same website projects the cruising industry will generate more than $39 billion in 2015.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters launched in 1987 and is one of the largest sellers of cruise travel in North America. Our travel franchise is expanding rapidly, with nearly 200 locations open or under development. Three overarching realities drive our growth: our proven business model is affordable to start and extremely scalable, our focus on cruise vacations makes us a trusted resource among cruise customers who overwhelmingly prefer to book with a travel agent, and the cruise industry is growing quickly.
Why our customers come back to us
Planning a cruise vacation can be complicated and overwhelming. The myriad choices available and the significant expense are two reasons why CLIA says 70% of customers prefer to book their cruises through an agent vs. a website. One of the reasons cruising is ideal for repeat business is because travelers will never run out of new places to explore or new ships to experience.
If cruising trends hold true, soon even more people will be seeking out trusted cruise specialists like Expedia CruiseShipCenters. New ships are being built in record numbers, and more generations of people are getting into cruising — it’s a good thing our 4,000 Vacation Consultants are professionally trained to match the right cruise to the right customer. We’re ready to capitalize on this opportunity.
“The value we add is in being thoughtful,” says Mary Beth Casey, owner of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We have to know what this vacation will bring to them and their families. And then when our customers get off the ship, we do a follow-up: Did we meet their expectations? Where are they going to go next?”
How we create ‘Customers For Life’
Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ marketing strategy is built around creating Customers For Life. Our competitive advantage lies in our ability to provide personal service, trustworthy advice and Expedia prices. All of this combined means we can deliver a spectacular vacation experience and ensures that our customers come back to us again and again.
Our annual marketing plan includes specific promotions targeted at experienced cruisers to get them thinking about where to go next. Our World Explorer Promotion each October does just that and encourages past customers to try more exotic destinations, longer itineraries and premium and luxury cruise lines at a higher price point. They already know they love to cruise, now we want them to experience it at a new level.
Like all of our promotions, we support the sale with extensive web, print and video marketing both locally and nationally. The World Explorer promotion video below is a great example of how our marketing and exclusive offers are driving repeat business for our travel franchise owners.
Repeat customers add value to your business
What does all this mean for our travel franchise owners? It means if you follow our system for creating Customers For Life, you’ll continuously build a base of loyal clients and scale your business over time. Since your customers are your most valuable asset as a franchise owner, you’re earning income while increasing the equity in your business with every new client you convert into a Customer For Life. When the time comes to sell your business, you’ll have a rich asset that you’ve been building for 10, 20 or 30 years — that’s the power of our travel franchise model.
Our retail locations are the secret to our success
Unlike other travel franchise businesses, Expedia CruiseShipCenters are brick-and-mortar buildings that are visible in the hearts of communities across North America. The fact that our locations are connected to local communities is one of the main reasons that Expedia CruiseShipCenters has been growing at an average rate of 20% each year, over the last two decades.
And 2014 marked a year of record growth for us. We awarded 30 new retail travel franchises and added more than 1,000 Vacation Consultants to our growing network. You will see new Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise locations popping up in California, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Louisiana, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Illinois and Quebec. And we’re not stopping there: Our growth plans include the awarding of 40 franchises in 2015 and another 50 in 2016.