What Makes Expedia CruiseShipCenters Different?
How Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owners benefit from having a prominent brand in a massive industry
It might come as a shock for some that a retail travel agency is growing and thriving in the age of the Internet, but Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® is doing just that. The cruise industry is getting bigger every year, and customers prefer to book with travel franchises who can offer personal service and customized travel plans.
The Expedia CruiseShipCenters brand is known far and wide — we have 235 locations open or under development in North America. Our retail locations give us increased visibility with our customers and also provide an office environment where we can host events — and where our independent Vacation Consultants can share knowledge and work together. According to Cruise Lines International, over 82% of all cruisers seek to purchase their vacations through a travel agent, which is unusual for the travel industry at large. Booking cruises tends to be more complicated than other types of travel. At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we provide a high level of knowledge and customer service, which cruisers rely on in booking their vacations.
Mary Beth Casey, an Expedia CruiseShipCenters owner in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says her customers like having an experienced traveler at the helm of a deal.
“The value we add is in being thoughtful,” Mary Beth says. “We have to know what this vacation will bring to them and their families. There’s a lot of patience and hand-holding from our side. Our customers can ask anything from the simplest questions to the most absurd. When our customers get off the boat, we do a follow-up: Did we meet their expectations? Where are they going to go next?”
Our travel agency franchises: The cruise industry’s best friend
Expedia is one of the biggest travel businesses in the world, with $84 billion in annual bookings, and Expedia CruiseShipCenters sells more cruises per location than any other retailer in North America. That means cruise lines come clamoring to us with competitive offers and promotions. Expedia CruiseShipCenters works closely with cruise lines and other large travel companies to develop promotional deals that will resonate with customers. Thanks to our buying power, we are also able to secure blocks of desirable rooms for popular ships and destinations, locking in low prices and great rooms for travelers. We then leverage those deals by creating marketing campaigns — some of which are largely underwritten by the cruise lines themselves. For instance, we are able to send out gorgeous flyers at pennies on the dollar to targeted customers on behalf of our franchisees. It’s a perfect symbiotic relationship — cruise lines get the word out about their trips and destinations, and we get the word out about our personal service and center locations.
An Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise is a scalable business
Looking to start a travel agency? Other travel franchises are work-from-home gigs where you operate as the primary salesperson. The Expedia business model is different – we build teams of Vacation Consultants to generate a much higher sales volume. Our franchisees work to support teams of independent travel agents who tap into the resources of their Expedia CruiseShipCenters location to offer great travel packages to customers. Travel agents earn a commission when customers travel, and the Expedia CruiseShipCenters owner also earns a commission. The business model is similar to a real estate brokerage, in which a broker brings together a team of real estate agents and gives them the resources they need to close deals. In this paradigm, an Expedia CruiseShipCenters owner fills the role of the broker. Other travel franchises put their owners in the role of the real estate agent. A talented one can do well, but agents only have so many hours in which they can sell. A broker, however, can endlessly add capacity by bringing in more agents.
You can also own multiple locations. Brenna and Dan Maurer own Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations in Summerlin and Henderson, Nevada and have now opened another location in Seattle, Washington being run by their son.
“The Expedia leadership team is very helpful, very knowledgeable and very true to what their expectations are for us,” Brenna says. “I think they provide almost everything you need to succeed in this business, and I only say almost because you have to take what they give you and work hard to make your business succeed.”
Cruises are popular, but they are not cheap. The average cruise guest pays more than $2,000 for a trip, and they want to make sure they enjoy every penny they are spending. That’s why they are eager to have experts they can talk to and learn from, and who can design travel plans that aren’t cookie-cutter. That’s why 82% of cruise customers use a travel agent to book their trip; even in the age of the Internet, planning a cruise can be too complicated and involved without a consultant to serve as a guide. The positive experience our Vacation Consultants give our customers, paired with the exceptional Expedia pricing we provide, is the reason our customers keep coming back to us to book with our franchise locations again and again.
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 franchise opportunity here.