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Travel Franchise Review: Q&A with Kyle Matheson of Expedia CruiseShipCenters

A growing industry, customer-centric culture, and big brand name led this hotel executive to trade land for sea.

A life-long traveler, Kyle Matheson, shares his experience taking over an existing franchise location and reveals what he believes is the key differentiator setting Expedia CruiseShipCenters apart from competitors.

What were you doing before becoming an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner?

Kyle: Most recently I was the Director of Sales for the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver, BC, but I’ve always worked in tourism and hospitality. I started in the travel business as a tour guide for my dad’s corporate event company and transitioned into hotels in 2000 and I have spent the last 18 years in sales and marketing for hotels.

What led you to consider franchise ownership? In particular, why a travel franchise?

Kyle: There are a couple of things that led my wife, Tammy, and I to Expedia CruiseShipCenters. I could see the cruise market being an area for growth with every year at least 50,000 more people cruising through the port of Vancouver alone. We initially looked at a couple independent travel agencies, but once we attended Discovery Day for Expedia CruiseShipCenters we were sold. We realized that we could own our own travel agency that specializes in cruise, and get the technology, marketing, and the Expedia brand recognition, it was really a no-brainer for us to go with the travel franchise option.

Originally, we were looking to open a new Expedia franchise, but there weren’t any available in our area so we started looking at existing locations for sale and purchased one of the original 10 Centers ever built.

Why an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise?

Kyle: The very first thing we noticed about Expedia CruiseShipCenters was the support. Expedia CruiseShipCenters has great technology, customer management systems, good marketing programs as well as a large corporate team that help us. On top of that, we are backed by Expedia, the largest brand in travel which allows us to offer the best deals and our Travel Consultants can earn higher levels of commission.

What do you believe sets Expedia CruiseShipCenters apart from our competitors, including travel websites?

Kyle: It’s really about the service that we offer. Everybody says they have great service but what I like about Expedia CruiseShipCenters is that it’s backed up by the training. We’ve added 10 new Consultants in the past year and to be able to put them through a set of training that formalizes what they’re meant to do — how to take care of a guest, how to look for customers, how to qualify properly, how to match the customer to the right cruise line — all of that is really drilled home through the training and in the end is what benefits the client. It’s all about living the Promise that Expedia CruiseShipCenters puts forward.

How do you find your customers?

Kyle: I think when you buy a franchise you’ve got to jump in with both feet and really work the system. We participate in every one of the flyer mailings, email blasts and Facebook marketing initiatives. For our Center, the secret sauce for finding new customers and hosting an event in conjunction with the 7 core promotions Expedia CruiseShipCenters has each year. Sometimes we’ll hold the event here in the Center and other times at an offsite location like a golf course or a community venue. Partnering with a participating cruise line and holding an event around the promotion provides a reason for people to act on the marketing we’ve sent them and has been a real winner for us.

The other thing I’d say is when you buy a business you need to put work into it. I tell potential new franchise owners on the validation calls, you’ve got to keep recruiting and promoting top of mind and constantly network. I’ve had three leads just from standing in bank line-ups! If the opportunity comes up to have a meaningful conversation and I’ve got my branded Expedia CruiseShipCenters shirt on I jump on it.

What do you do to drive repeat business and Customers For Life?

Kyle:Kyle: I believe it’s important to build strong relationships with our customers to drive repeat business. I’m so lucky to have such a great team of Vacation Consultants who are passionate about travel and love helping customers book memorable vacations. If some issues come arise either before, during or after our customers trip, we can work together and keep their business because we have a good relationship. Creating a deep customer connection allows us to follow up after their vacation and ask if they enjoyed that 75th birthday trip or that 15th wedding anniversary cruise was and if they would like to plan their next vacation.

What aspects of this business do you enjoy the most?

Kyle: For me, it’s the people. I don’t think people get into the hospitality business if they don’t enjoy being part of a team and bringing people together. We get to deal with clients when they are at their happiest. They’re dreaming about their next vacation or their bucket list trip or a special occasion, and that’s just fun to talk about and be in the office for.

Another thing that I didn’t expect is the great community of Franchise Partners. Quite a few of them have taken the time to have a coffee or a meal with me to let me pick their brain and help me get up to speed and improve my business. I’ve found the entire Expedia CruiseShipCenters community has been super helpful and open.

How would you describe the culture at your center?

Kyle and his team celebrating 1million in sales

Kyle: We celebrate birthdays with wine and cheese at our Center! It really has a family feel, which is something that I like and have tried to foster after working in my own dad’s business. This business is very personal to me. My wife and I have made the investment to do this and we involve our 9-year-old daughter as much as we can. I feel like the people in the office really care about each other and their shared success. The previous owners built a Center where people wanted to be and enjoy each other’s company and I’ve worked hard to continue that so that everyone feels that same level of trust. Some of the Consultants even go on vacation together which I think that says a lot about how well they get along.

 

How has the Expedia CruiseShipCenters corporate support team helped you launch and grow your business since you started?

Kyle: Since I joined the Expedia family I’m felt consistent support from the corporate team from the very beginning. I felt like the corporate head office truly wanted to get to know me and understand what I was looking for in a franchise. My Franchise Performance Coach is awesome at helping me grow my business in the right direction. She’s encouraging, but also knows I like numbers and benchmarks so she gives me all the information I need. She’s also great at providing the check for blind spots and is always encouraging me to recruit. The proof is in the pudding: halfway through this year we were already over half of our growth and it is from the new Consultants we added last year who are now starting to hit their stride. Without her support and encouragement, we wouldn’t have been as successful.

Where do you see your business in 5 or 10 years? How do you see your lifestyle changing as a result of your business growth?

Kyle: Even though we’re an established Center, I’m still in growth mode. When I look at the high performers in the Expedia CruiseShipCenters system they have more Consultants. We have 32 Consultants right now and I’d like to get to 50, while still maintaining our great Center culture. I see us growing over the next 5 years with Tammy ideally joining the business in the next year or two.
In terms of lifestyle changes, I truly have more flexibility now. Working in hotels, especially at the leadership/executive level, it was hard to get away and have family time. The biggest change in my life since buying my Expedia franchise is I have been to every single one of my daughter’s dance recitals and school assemblies because I’m my own boss.

Kyle and his wife Tammy – Korto hike

 

 

Learn More

For more in-depth details on how you can be your own boss and open an Expedia CruiseShipCenters retail travel franchise, fill out the form below.

3 Reasons to Invest in an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise

A proven business model making Expedia franchise owners successful

Our proven business model is designed to help Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchisees achieve their goals and grow their business. Franchisees recruit Travel Consultants who earn commissions on the trips they book. A large team of Vacation consultants helps to drive top-line revenue, which in turn enables the franchisees to manage their Center as well as build profits.

The growth of the cruising industry has generated an explosion of demand for Expedia CruiseShipCenters around the country. Given the complicated nature of booking cruises, more than 70% of cruisers relying on travel retail centers to help them plan their dream vacations.

As one of the leading cruise sellers and most recognized brand in travel, we are rapidly expanding throughout the U.S. Here are three of the top reasons to start your own Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise and be a part of one of the largest travel company in the world.

The power of our brand

We have over 265 Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations open in North America, and our brand recognition is a huge marketing advantage. Because Expedia CruiseShipCenters is one of the top sellers of cruises worldwide, major cruise lines clamor at our doorstep to offer us competitive deals and promotions.

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 fliers at little cost 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.

The cruise industry is booming

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has over three decades of sales growth at an average of 11% each year. We’ve grown at 3x the rate of the cruise industry average, the rise of our brand has coincided with the popularity of cruising.

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“Cruises are becoming increasingly popular because they offer comfort and convenience while making it easy for people to visit several exotic locations on a single trip,” says Expedia CruiseShipCenters CEO Matthew Eichhorst.  “At the same time, though, the sheer magnitude of travel options has become overwhelming for many travelers — which makes a perfect opportunity for our expert consultants at Expedia CruiseShipCenters.”

Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owners receive ongoing support

Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owners get outstanding systems and support from our corporate team. We have grown faster than the rest of the cruise industry by building incredible systems that make it easy for franchisees and their travel consultants to share knowledge about destinations and build custom itineraries that suit clients. We also have built a strong culture of teamwork that allows franchisees and team members to build upon one another’s success.

“So much sets them apart: the strength of their technology, their commitment to their franchisees, the open-minded culture,” says Joyce Ripka, a former CPA who owns an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise location in Brossard, Quebec. “Their door is always open for us to make recommendations. We have a lot of support from our franchise-partners, as well. The people in Vancouver keep us well-informed and are really willing to help us grow our business.”

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For more information on the Expedia franchise opportunity, complete the form below.

Meet our Franchise Advisors

Supporting you through the Expedia Franchise Education Process

Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to expand its full-service retail travel franchises across the continent and our dynamic duo of Franchise Advisors are dedicated to helping potential franchise owners find the business opportunity of their dreams.

Our Franchise Advisors each have extensive experience in franchising and a passion for our proven business model. They’ll help guide you through our seven-step franchise education process and ensure that all your questions are answered along the way.

Jeff Warkentin, Franchise Advisor

Jeff has worn many different hats at Expedia CruiseShipCenters. As a former Franchise Owner turned Franchise Performance Coach with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Jeff has experienced all sides of our brand’s proven system. Prior to joining the Corporate Support team, Jeff purchased an under-performing Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in 2007 and grew it into a top 10 franchise in our system before selling it three years later. Jeff now uses his wealth of knowledge on the Expedia CruiseShipCenters model to excite candidates about how they too can realize their entrepreneurial dreams and build equity in a fun, growing industry, just like he did.

What advice would you give to candidates? My advice to candidates is to choose a business that’s going to align with your lifestyle and long-term plan. If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work again!

What’s your favorite destination you’ve visited? My wife and I took a Paul Gauguin cruise to the Cook Islands and it was like we were traveling undiscovered land, it is truly stunning. I would highly recommend it if you’re looking to explore the South Pacific.

Where is your next dream vacation? I’d really like to see France and do a river cruise through the Bordeaux region. Wine sampling, great food and good company sounds like a dream.

Daniel Meyer, Franchise Advisor

Daniel joined Expedia CruiseShipCenters in 2014 and continues his successful career in franchise development. He combines his Master’s in Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Communications with more than 20 years of experience in sales management, and business development. As a previous Franchise Owner and Franchise Development Manager with Tutor Doctor, he has a deep understanding of both franchising and business and has a passion for helping people find the right opportunity to meet their personal and financial goals.

What advice would you give to candidates? I’d tell candidates to choose an industry that encompasses a passion of theirs (i.e. travel or education) and understand that the day to day role is something you can get excited about.

What’s your favorite destination you’ve visited? One of my favorite places I’ve visited is the Moselle River in Germany on a river cruise. There was so much history, architecture and WINE! One afternoon we floated past 35 Castles. I went to Prague on the same trip and it was an amazingly beautiful city.

Where is your next dream vacation? This summer I’m going to Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. I’ve been planning the trip for a while and I’m excited to see each of those cities.

Our Franchise Advisors are here to help educate you on the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity. Jeff and Daniel are both experts in franchise ownership and will guide you through the process of discovering our franchise. If you’re passionate about traveling and enjoy building and leading a team, owning an Expedia Franchise could be perfect for you.

Complete the form below to receive of free franchise report and Jeff or Daniel will reach out shortly! You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

Travel Agent or Travel Agency Owner

Which travel business opportunity is right for you?

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we offer two distinct business opportunities with different investment levels, earning potential and lifestyles. Not sure if you want to be a Travel Consultant or be the owner of your own travel agency? Answer the questions in our handy quiz below to determine which opportunity is right for you!

Travel Agent Opportunity

To learn more about becoming a Vacation Consultant with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and get connected with your nearest Center, submit an inquiry at www.joinecsc.com.

Franchise Owner Opportunity

To learn more about becoming a Franchise Owner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and begin our discovery process, complete the form below. You’ll gain immediate access to our Franchise Report which contains useful information about our franchise opportunity.

Are you ready to get started but still aren’t sure which opportunity is the right fit for you? Read our detailed comparison of the two opportunities: Travel Agent or Travel Agency Owner

Determining the Best Expedia CruiseShipCenters Opportunity For You!

Comparing our Travel Agent and Franchise Owner opportunity

Expedia CruiseShipCenters offers not just one but two business opportunities! Each offers it’s own earning potential, time commitment, investment level and lifestyle. Continue reading to learn more about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters Travel Agent Opportunity and the Expedia Franchise Owner opportunity to determine which is the best fit for your personal goals!

Do you want to start your own travel business?

If you made your way here, the answer is probably “yes”! Congratulations on coming to the right place to start a travel business. As part of the most recognized brand in travel, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has been providing travel business opportunities for passionate entrepreneurs like yourself for over 30 years!

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters you can choose to become the owner of a retail travel agency franchise in your community, or you can become a Vacation Consultant who is supported by one of our 255+ franchise locations already in existence. The right opportunity for you will depend on a number of factors described in more detail below.

What kind of time commitment are you able to invest in your business?

As a Vacation Consultant with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, you have the flexibility to set your own schedule and come into the Center when and as often as you choose to. You can sell travel on a part-time basis or make it a full-time business. You’ll receive support from your local Franchise Owner, but as an Independent Contractor working on commission only, the hours you put into your business is completely up to you.

As an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner, the demands on your time will be more intense. During the first few years while you’re getting your Center built, your team recruited and trained, and your business to profitability, you’ll be working at least a full-time week, likely more. Franchise Owners at our more mature locations will often hire a manager for the Center to allow them more freedom to travel and enjoy the perks of the business they’ve worked hard to build.

Do you want to spend most of your time organizing vacations for others?

If you love to plan vacations for your family and friends and want to do that all day long, our Vacation Consultant opportunity is likely the best fit for you. Our Consultants are passionate travellers who love to share their experiences with others. We call them Navigators of Spectacular Vacation Experiences because of their commitment to ensuring every client’s trip is nothing short of perfection.

As a Franchise Owner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, you’ll sell a bit of travel in the beginning while you’re learning the business and training your team, but this will not be the main aspect of your role. Starting a travel agency requires you to wear many hats including recruiter, trainer, coach, marketer, community liaison and sometimes bookkeeper. If you have a business partner, you can trade off responsibilities based on your respective strengths, but in the beginning you should expect to be doing a little bit of everything until your business gets off the ground.

What is your main financial motivator for starting a business?

Many of our Vacation Consultants make a very good living on the commissions they earn selling cruises and vacations; however, the majority of our agents are looking only to earn supplemental income through a business that offers them flexibility and enjoyment. Stay-at-home parents, retirees, or people who simply love to share their passion for travel with others have all chosen to become Navigators of Spectacular Vacation Experiences with us. As part of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, you’ll be paid industry-leading commissions for each cruise you sell on the date your clients depart on their trip.

For our Franchise Owners on the other hand, this business is all about building long-term equity. You’ll earn a portion of your Consultants’ commissions in the short-run, but the real goal is to build up a valuable asset so that you can eventually sell your travel business at a sizable profit. The larger your team, sales and database of loyal customers, the more valuable your business will be. Many of our Franchise Owners who have followed our system have been very successful at building equity in their businesses, including starting, growing and selling multiple locations.

Do you love to lead and coach teams?

Franchise Partners support Vacation Consultants with ongoing training and support.

If you love being part of a team but not necessarily leading it, our Vacation Consultant opportunity is probably a better fit for you. You’ll still enjoy all the perks that come with being part of a fun working culture in a retail Center, including training and mentorship from your local Franchise Partner as well as your fellow Consultants.

The most important aspect of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner’s role is team leadership. Coaching, motivating and leading a large team of Vacation Consultants to success will be key to building a profitable travel business in your community. Our best Franchise Owners are natural leaders who love to help others achieve their goals. They facilitate team meetings, create a fun and exciting culture in their Center, and work with each individual Vacation Consultant to set sales targets and build a plan to achieve them.

Do you have access to $285,000 to invest in a retail business?

Starting a travel business either as a Vacation Consultant or Franchise Owner offer very different earning potentials and corresponding investment levels. Our Vacation Consultants can get started selling travel for as little as $299 in the US or $499 in Canada.

To become an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner, the financial requirements are more rigid as it takes time and capital to build a successful retail travel business. To fund your Center build-out and cover working capital during your first year of opening, you can expect to spend between $165,000 – $285,000 depending on your market and the space you open in. If you choose to move forward with our franchise discovery process, we’ll talk to you about financing options and ways you can leverage your retirement savings or home equity to fund your business.

Ready to get started?

Now that you’ve determined which travel business opportunity is right for you, it’s time to take the next step in making it happen!

I’d like to learn more about becoming a Travel Agent

To learn more about becoming a Vacation Consultant with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and get connected with your nearest Center, submit an inquiry at www.joinecsc.com.

I’d like to learn more about becoming a Franchise Owner

To learn more about becoming a Franchise Owner with Expedia CruiseShipCenters and begin our discovery process, complete the form below. You’ll gain immediate access to our Franchise Report which contains useful information about our franchise opportunity.

Meet some of our newest Franchise Owners

Set sail with the #1 brand in travel and open your own franchise

Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to expand throughout North America, gaining more exceptional franchise owners year after year. With over 255 travel franchise locations open or in development, we’re on track for 2018 to be another record year.

Our franchise owners come from a wide range of backgrounds, each with their own unique stories of what led them to choosing franchise ownership. Meet some of our newest franchise owners who officially joined the Expedia CruiseShipCenters family in 2017.

Rene Matt – San Diego, CA

Franchise owner, Rene Matt, grew up in Switzerland and his curiosity and desire to travel was sparked early on in life. His background in computer science led to rewarding career in high-tech sales and owning a small merchant services business in Southern California. He discovered the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity when he was searching for a new challenge where could utilize his skills and be his own boss. Rene and his family enjoy having an active lifestyle as well as exploring the world and looking for new adventures. In June of 2017 Rene opened his Center in sunny San Diego, CA.

Ram Venkat – Plano, TX

Franchise owner, Ram Venkat, and his family moved from Southern California to Texas before opening his Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in Plano, TX. Ram has an impressive background working in the IT industry for over 15 years holding positions as an IT consultant, VP of application development and IT program Manager. Ram’s leadership and management experience led him to pursue a business opportunity that allows him to enjoy new adventures with friends and family and build equity in his business. Ram and his wife Deepa have two sons and they love travelling as a family, cruising is one of their favorite ways to explore new places.

Nickell Beach- Lehi, UT

Franchise owner, Nickell Beach, is a mom of three and has a background in Business Management and Fashion merchandising. Prior to joining the Expedia CruiseShipCenters family, Nickell worked in the mortgage industry for 15 years and gained experience in sales, operations and management. She enjoys an active lifestyle and was looking to own her own business and build equity around one of her passions. Nickell’s tenacity has made her a great leader in her community opening her Center just south of Salt Lake City in Lehi, UT in July 2017.

Eric and Sharon Hickman – Lakeland, GA

Franchise owners, Eric and Sharon Hickman, opened their Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in October 2017 in Lakeland, GA. Eric is a skilled entrepreneur, with a 14-year career working in manufacturing operations and global supply chain as well as operating and selling several smaller businesses along the way. Sharon is an experienced teacher, working in both the public and private school systems. Successfully home-schooling their children and sending the youngest off to University Eric and Sharon were ready to pursue their next entrepreneurial endeavor together as franchise owners. Combining Eric’s skills in building and leading teams and Sharon’s experience as an educator made Expedia CruiseShipCenters the perfect fit. They are both excited to utilize their strengths as they build long-term equity in a business that they own together.

Are you ready for the next chapter in your career?

When you join forces with Expedia CruiseShipCenters no previous travel industry experience is required – just a passion for travel and desire to recruit and lead a team! Our franchise owners come from a wide array of backgrounds and careers each bringing their own unique skills and experience to the job. Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ proven system, paired with industry-leading tools and support, sets our franchise owners up for success from day one. There’s never been a better time to join the Expedia family by opening your own Expedia CruiseShipCenters!

Learn More

Does franchise ownership interest you? For more details about owning your own Expedia CruiseShipCenters download our free franchise report by filling out the form below. You can also learn more by reading the essentials about our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

Achieving Your Franchise Business Goals

Refranchising made easy with a dedicated support team


When you become an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner you become our partner. Our partnership means we’re in this together, from the moment you sign your franchise agreement to the day you’re ready to sell your Center – for a profit. Beginning with our dedicated Start-Up team to guide you through launching your Center and our knowledgeable Refranchise team specializing in supporting Franchise Partners through the process of selling your business.

Determining your Long-term Goals

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters we begin discussing your long-term plan before you even become a Franchise Partner. When you enter into franchise ownership you’re embarking on an investment that one day you’ll want to sell for a healthy profit! For some it’s a long-term plan, helping them foray into retirement by either developing a trusted Office Manager to operate when they’re vacationing or bringing on their millennial children to purchase the business over time. Some Franchise Partners plan to sell the business in a certain number of years, so their goal is to propel growth faster than others. In this case, they work full time building the business while cultivating their team to produce and hit targets, so the business is attractive to any incoming buyer as it’s on an upward trajectory.

With the growing popularity of entrepreneurship and small business optimism over the last several years, finding a buyer of has become easier. Starting a business from scratch has many commitments and it can sometimes be overwhelming especially for first-time entrepreneurs. However, opening and operating a franchised business can ease this transition with the security of a proven system and reliable support team. Buying an existing franchise that is already in operation can further eliminate any reservations you might have.

Guidance from a Dedicated Support Team

Purchasing an existing franchise business has some significant advantages which can propel growth faster than a startup. An established Expedia CruiseShipCenters has leveraged our proven system and offers a new owner a built-in customer base. Clients know what to expect from your business because they recognize the brand and trust the service they have been provided. Additionally, the support, training and infrastructure are already in place allowing the transition to a new owner to be smoother and more efficient.

When the time comes, you’ll work with our expert team to guide you through our Refranchise Program. The process is designed to both recognize the contributions made by the existing Franchise Partner and to ensure the incoming Franchise Partner is set up for continued success.

Your Refranchise Manager will help to pair you with potential buyers and choose someone who is the right fit for all parties and whom you’re going to enter a negotiation with. From beginning to end of selling your Center your Expedia CruiseShipCenters Refranchise Manager will keep both parties on track, provide relevant documentation and guidance throughout the entire process. Additionally, once the sale is complete we will direct and manage all communication to suppliers while the new owner gets acquainted with your team and works through our Franchise Partner training academy with their dedicated Onboarding Coach.

We’ve seen great success transitioning new Franchise Partners into our proven model, completing over 10 sales with happy sellers and buyers over the past two years alone. Our new Franchise Partners have demonstrated strong year over year growth in what was an already a successful business built up from the previous owner! Buying an Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a fantastic way to build a local asset while being involved in an industry that has a global reach. Whether you’re operating your Center for future expansion or plan to make enough profit to sell in five years, our corporate team of 125+ employees are here to support and guide you every step of the way.

Learn More

Get started building your dream business where you can build equity in a proven system like Expedia CruiseShipCenters by completing the form below! If you’re interested in exploring resale opportunities, visit our Resale Opportunities page and complete the form for more information.

Reflecting on Another Great Year

 2017 in review with Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Bellevue, WA Grand Opening

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we continue to gain traction as the largest retail network across North America. Over the course of 2017 we have been actively expanding our brand throughout North America and providing the best tools and systems to our franchise owners to continue to grow a profitable and valuable travel business. As we enter into our 31st year in business we’re proud to share another year of records and even more excitement on the horizon.

Continued Growth Coast to Coast

Over the past year we opened 23 new retail travel agency locations in our expanding network and added a record 1,700 new Vacation Consultants at Centers across North America. We’re not even close to being finished growing throughout North America as we have major growth plans to open a further 30+ locations in the year ahead. In 2018, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will be coming to communities in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Texas to name a few!

We have plans for further growth across North America and have prime territories available in the United States where 75% of the population lives within driving distance of a cruise port. There’s huge potential for franchise ownership in Florida, Texas, California, Washington, Arizona and Illinois as these states are home to more than half of North American cruisers.

Dropping ANCHOR in Vancouver

We held our Anchor meeting in beautiful Vancouver, Canada, home of Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ corporate headquarters and welcomed Franchise Partners from across the continent. It was a great success with more than 200 Franchise Partners in attendance for valuable seminars, engaging keynote presentations from industry leaders and the opportunity to network with fellow franchise owners. This year we had the pleasure of hosting the inspirational keynote speaker, Mark Okerstrom, CEO of Expedia Group, he was later joined by Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters to discuss the bright future of the cruise industry.

Another Award Winning Year

The partnerships we continue to build and nurture with our partners is something we take a great deal of pride in and value greatly. We’re honored to also be recognized with the following awards from a few of our biggest travel partners:

Celebrity Cruises: North American Partner of the Year

Norwegian Cruise Line: 2016 Franchise Partner of the Year

• Royal Caribbean International:National Partner of the Year

• MSC: Canadian Consortium Partner of the Year

Carnival Cruises: Chairman’s Award

2018 is the year to Open Your Expedia Franchise

There’s never been a better time to go into business with the most recognized brand in travel as CLIA expects 27.2 million passengers to cruise in 2018! Over 100 new ships are scheduled to debut between now and 2026. The demand for cruising has steadily increased 62% over the last ten years and as more travelers will be seeking the expert advice of a trusted travel agent 100 million more people are expected to cruise in the next 4 years. According to CLIA the demand for cruising has increased 20.5% in the last five years.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise system is built upon a proven model designed to support franchise owners achieve their lifestyle, income and business goals. Our franchise model is designed to support individuals with little or no experience in the cruise industry and help them build and grow a successful travel business and achieve their income, lifestyle and business ownership goals. For over 30 years, we’ve been dedicated to navigating spectacular vacation experiences from our 235+ franchise locations. We look forward to further growing our team in 2018 and serving communities as the trusted cruise retail network for all travelers across North America.

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 retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

An Incredible Year in Review

Another Record Breaking Year for Expedia CruiseShipCenters

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters opened 34 new retail travel agency locations and added 1,200 Vacation Consultants to its network in 2016.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, we’re continually working towards being the largest retail network across North America. Over the course of 2016 we have been actively expanding our brand throughout North America and providing the best tools and systems to our franchise owners to continue to grow a profitable and valuable travel business. As we enter into our 30th year in business we’re proud to share another year of records and even more excitement on the horizon.

Further Growth Coast to Coast

2016 was a record year for new Center openings for us as we opened 34 new retail travel agency locations and added 1,200 new Vacation Consultants to our ever expanding network! We’re not even close to being finished growing throughout North America as we have major growth plans to open a further 40 locations in the year ahead. In 2017, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will be coming to communities in California, Florida, New York, Texas and Utah to name a few!

We have plans for further growth across North America and have prime territories available in the United States where 75% of the population lives within driving distance of a cruise port. There’s huge potential for franchise ownership in Florida, Texas, California, Washington and New York as these states are home to 60% of North American cruisers.

Another Award Winning Year

The partnerships we continue to build and nurture with our partners is something we take a great deal of pride in and value greatly. Expedia CruiseShipCenters was ranked as a top franchise on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list and named as a top franchise opportunity by Franchise Business Review. We’re honored to also be recognized with the following awards from a few of our biggest travel partners:

Celebrity Cruises: North American Partner of the Year

Norwegian Cruise Line: 2016 Franchise Partner of the Year

Carnival Cruises: Outstanding Cruise Rookie Partner

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Cruise Sales Manager, Christine Brown, was awarded with Cruise Line International Association’s Rising Star Award.

In addition to our system-wide awards, we were thrilled to see one of our own Cruise Sales Managers in Las Vegas, Christine Brown, be honored by Cruise Lines International Association with the Rising Star Award! This award recognizes Christine’s passion for travel, strong relationships with her clients and her overall impact on the travel agent landscape overall. Congratulations Christine!

Expedia CruiseShipCenters in the News

In addition to an appearance on FOX & Friends and in Entrepreneur Magazine, Expedia CruiseShipCenters was also featured in the American Society of Travel Agents’ news-style documentary, Travel Agents Taking Off! In the film, reporter Jarret Hill highlights the continued rise of the travel agent in the film and interviews President, Matthew Eichhorst along with a visit to the Expedia CruiseShipCenters retail location in Bellevue, Washington.

2017 is the year to Open Your Expedia Franchise

There’s never been a better time to go into business with the most recognized brand in travel as CLIA expects 25.3 million passengers to cruise in 2017! In the year ahead, 26 new ships are scheduled to debut as demand for cruising has steadily increased 62% over the last ten years and as more travelers will be seeking the expert advice available from using a trusted travel agent. Over the past year we’ve seen our passengers increase by 9% with further growth anticipated for 2017.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise system is built upon a proven model designed to support franchise owners achieve their lifestyle, income and business goals. Our franchise model is designed to support individuals with little or no experience in the cruise industry and help them build and grow a successful travel business and achieve their income, lifestyle and business ownership goals. For 30 years, we’ve been dedicated to navigating spectacular vacation experiences from our 225 franchise locations. We look forward to further growing our team in 2017 and becoming the trusted cruise retail network for all travelers across North America.

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 retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

How Contests Drive Revenue For Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchises

Travel franchise owners benefit from our relationships with major cruise lines

How do Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners attract new customers? There are many ways, but there’s one that’s gaining traction among our franchise owners is truly fun and exciting — contests!

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Fun and effective – contests help to bolster consultants’ customer base and re-engage with existing contacts.

Contests are a great way for our franchise owners to build a database of prospective customers, especially when they’re first getting started. Thanks to our strong relationships with some of the biggest names in the travel industry, each year Expedia CruiseShipCenters partners with brands like Disney, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International for our annual and promotional contests to serve both the franchise owner and also potential customers. It’s the epitome of a win-win situation, franchisees grow and nurture their contact list while a few lucky individuals embark on the vacation experience of a lifetime!

These contests help you to add hundreds of new subscribers to your databases year round and keep our brand top of mind for travelers. Our dedicated marketing team makes contesting a breeze for our franchise owners by overseeing and promoting all contests. Print and online marketing pieces with consistent messages are prepared, along with in-store messaging. To best support franchise owners and vacation consultants, an in-depth contest guide is also available.

Our Win 1 of 5 Free Cruises Contest with Norwegian Cruise Line is on now until October 31st where five lucky winners will receive a free 7 night Caribbean cruise for two! Contest entrants can earn up to ten additional chances to win by referring their friends and family members. Last year, we received more than 200,000 entries with 80% of entrants subscribed to 1 or more of our email marketing pieces which are personalized to the local franchise. Contests like this provide amazing exposure to travelers who may not know about our services yet and allow franchisees to re-engage with their existing database.

Grow, build and nurture customer relationships

Not only do contests help us attract new contacts and email marketing subscriptions but it also allows travel agents in the Center to connect with their existing contacts and help them to enter the current contest. This point of connection strengthens the relationship and also serves as a great opportunity to check in on travel needs, update contact and marketing subscription information.

Contest entrants’ information is dispersed among our local franchises based on ZIP code to increase their databases of potential customers. Since many people also choose to subscribe to our email newsletters when they enter the contest, our travel franchise owners can keep their services top of mind when those new contacts go to book their next dream vacation.

“Our annual contest is something we look forward to every year because there’s nothing more satisfying to us than providing people with the experience of cruising,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “These contests are extremely beneficial to our franchise owners because they provide a deep well of new potential customers to reach out to long after the contest is over.”

Cruising is more popular than ever before

According to Cruise Lines International Association, 100 million people are expected to cruise in the next four years. CLIA reports that the average age of a cruise traveler is 49, with an average income of $114,000. While cruising certainly appeals to the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations, the industry is also experiencing a boom in younger travelers. According to MMGY, travel agent usage has hit a six-year high and one out of three Millennials seek the advice of a trusted travel professional for their travel arrangements. Of those who cruised in 2014, 38% had never cruised before, which bodes well for future growth of our travel franchise.

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According to Cruise Lines International Association, 70% of cruisers opted to book using a travel agent in 2015.

CLIA, in their 2017 North American Market Profile of the industry, noted 70% of cruisers opted to book their vacations using a travel agent. The thriving cruising market, as well as consumer trends, allows Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners to have viable, profitable businesses that reflect their owners’ passion for travel.

We’re growing rapidly, and so are our sales

Expedia CruiseShipCenters launched in 1987 and is one of largest sellers of cruise travel in North America. Our travel agency franchise is rapidly expanding, with more than 265 locations open or under development.

Our sales have grown an average of 20% a year over the past two decades. While the internet had a negative impact on many other retail travel businesses, we have flourished. The reason for our success is simple: cruises, while popular, are not cheap. And choosing from the myriad of available cruise options is not easy. The complicated nature of booking cruises, combined with the force of our brand name, lead an ever-growing number of people to our travel franchise locations.

“The value we add is in being thoughtful,” says Mary Beth Casey, owner of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We know what this vacation will bring to them and their families. There’s a lot of patience and hand-holding from our side. And then when our customers get off the ship, we do a follow-up: Did we meet their expectations? And where are they going to go next?”

Learn More

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, 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.