Who is Our Competition?
Why we beat online travel sites and home-based travel agents
Had you heard that the internet killed travel agencies? Not so. Not at all. If you just want a flight, a hotel, or a car, you can probably find and buy what you need online — especially if you are traveling within the country. But once your travel plans get a more complicated, the internet stops being a “convenient shopping place” and becomes more of a maelstrom of confusion.
According to Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that conducts continual analysis of the industry, 82% of cruise guests book their cruises through a travel agent.
Cruisers prefer to book their vacations with the help of an agent — while cruising is popular, it isn’t cheap. Customers want to be sure that they are getting every penny’s worth out of what they spent on their vacation. One of the great things about cruise vacations — but also one of the reasons they can be complex to book — is that there are so many options for destinations and excursions. There are myriad details and options to sift through, and an experienced agent can guide a customer through the process to build their dream vacation.
The guidance we offer clients, paired with the deals we are able to negotiate, mean that online travel companies are not major competitors for Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® franchisees. In reality, they are an ally. Cruisers often start their research online, then they come to us for help sorting out the details. As part of the Expedia® family, we are able to pair our specialized knowledge of cruise vacation planning with the resources of one of the world’s largest travel brands. We are leaders in the cruise travel market, and thanks to Expedia, we also have the tools to help customers arrange the rest of their travel at great value, too.
What sets us apart from other travel agencies for sale?
Our scale and our branding, paired with extensive proven systems for running your business, set us apart from independent travel agencies. We stand out from other travel franchises, too.
Other travel franchises typically have extremely low start-up costs — even lower than ours. That’s because their franchisees operate home-based businesses and operate as travel agents who sell trips directly to customers. This is the business model of our competitors: CruiseOne, Cruise Planners, Results! Travel and Travel Leaders.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters takes a different approach, one that increases the revenue and income potential of the businesses. Our franchise owners are working in brick-and-mortar storefronts. Those storefronts provide visibility, they project legitimacy, and they inspire interest among neighbors who are surprised to see an Expedia storefront.
For Chris Meyer, an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner in Orange County, California, having a business committed to being visible in his community encouraged him to exit a 30-year career in the newspaper industry and buy one of our travel agencies for sale.
“I think the Expedia name is huge. It is a household name that has instant credibility and instant familiarity,” Chris says. “And also the instant thought: ‘Oh, they are big — they must have good prices.’ That is a big differentiator. Most of our competitors don’t have a big brand for people to connect with. Some of our competitors are affiliated with American Express, which seems a little yesteryear. We all remember travelers’ checks, but that seems yesteryear, too. Expedia is now. Our folks are committed to technology. It is at our core, and that gives us a competitive edge.”
An Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise is more than just a retail travel agency
Most importantly, the storefronts serve as a place to conduct business, manage and train your team, and host events for the public. While competing franchises help people become travel agents, we help people become travel brokers who manage teams of agents.
For Noam Meppen, an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner in Phoenix, Arizona, our business model is what makes his business viable and profitable in today’s competitive marketplace.
“In the cruise sales segment of travel, there aren’t a lot of retail players,” Noam says. “Cruises are usually sold through travel agents — some consist of call centers, which are farms of desks, where people are making calls. … There are a few travel franchises that are home-based models with solo operators. We’re different in that it is a brick-and-mortar retail store in a shopping center, and there is a sales staff that works under the franchise owner — with commissions split between the owner and the Vacation Consultants. This model allows me to scale and open a couple of locations in the city and generate more revenue and wealth.”
You can read more about why having a retail presence is essential to the success of our franchisees on our franchise blog.
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.