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The Importance of Finding a Franchise That Aligns With Your Values

Three ways that Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ values have affected franchisee culture and support

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ franchise values of Teamwork, Integrity, Respect, Dedication and Fun are integrated at every level of the organization.

With thousands of franchise opportunities available, finding the perfect fit for your personal and financial goals is an incredibly difficult decision. There are a number of things to consider, from the initial investment level, to the potential return, to the hours you’ll work, to the product you’ll sell, to the kind of lifestyle this new business will provide for you. But how important is cultural fit?

Like any organization, franchise companies have unique cultures that reflect their brand and the values they live by. A good franchisor will work hard to maintain and protect that culture by only awarding franchises to owners whose personal values align with the company’s.

So why is it important to consider a franchisor’s values when conducting your franchise research?

Here are three reasons why franchise values matter:

Support team will share franchise values

As a franchise owner who is learning new skills, a new system and maybe even an entirely new industry, you’re going to rely on your corporate support team to show you the ropes and help you build your new business — and that requires a high level of trust. Franchise values can help build that trust and provide a useful framework to guide interactions between franchisees and their support team. When everyone’s on the same page about what the expectations are of both employees and franchisees, and what those interactions will look like, that relationship tends to be very positive.

Watch the video below to hear the Expedia CruiseShipCenters Corporate Support team talk about what our franchise values of Teamwork, Integrity, Respect, Dedication and Fun mean to them.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, the impact of our values trickles down from the leadership team, to the corporate employees, to our franchisees — all the way down to their teams of Vacation Consultants and even to our customers! Our value of Dedication may look different at every level of the organization, but it’s at the core of everything we do. For the corporate support team, our dedication is to our franchisees and fulfilling our mission “to empower our Franchise Partners with a proven system to grow a profitable and valuable business.” For our Franchise Partners, their dedication is to their team of Vacation Consultants — whom they train, coach and lead to sales success. For those Consultants, their dedication is to their clients and delivering on our promise to navigate spectacular vacation experiences for each and every one of them.

Franchise values influence franchisee culture

Choosing a franchise is a bit like choosing your family. You’ll spend a lot of time with your fellow franchisees at company-wide training events and annual meetings, which can be an incredible experience when those events are full of like-minded individuals who share the same values. One of the most important values for our Franchise Partners at Expedia CruiseShipCenters is Teamwork. It’s shaped our franchisee culture so profoundly that we came up with a mantra, “Stronger.Together®,” to describe the impact it’s had on our organization. In practice, “Stronger.Together” is displayed in the way our franchisees share best practices with one another and support each other in running their businesses. There’s competition among locations to be sure, but there’s also a common understanding that when one franchise does well, we all do well, and that’s how the brand will grow stronger and more successful.

Of course, our Franchise Partners also live by our value of Fun! If our annual National Conference held each year aboard a seven-day cruise is any indication, it’s clear this franchise value has also had a tremendous impact on the franchisee culture at Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

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Franchise Partners showcase the franchise value of fun during the walk for breast cancer research onboard the annual National Conference.

Franchise values carry you through ups and downs

Franchise ownership can be incredibly rewarding, but even when you find a great cultural fit, it isn’t always easy. Like any business, your franchise will have ups and downs, but one of the incredible benefits of owning a franchise business is that you’re never going it alone. A franchise that has strong, organization-wide values will leverage them in both positive and challenging times.

At Expedia CruiseShipCenters, our value of Fun shines through when we’re celebrating success, but our value of Integrity also serves as a reminder of who we are if we happen to be dealing with a difficult situation.

Our commitment to “Truth & Transparency” was especially evident in 2012 when the cruise industry was under scrutiny from the media after some unfortunate incidents at sea. Instead of ignoring what was happening, our leadership team addressed it head-on and spoke openly with our franchisees so we could overcome it together. We came out on the other side even stronger.

Now, three years later, the cruise industry is thriving, and the demand for our franchise opportunity has never been higher. With 57 new ocean cruise ships set to launch in the next five years, our goal to add 300 travel agency franchises to our North American network by 2020 is entirely within reach.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Do you share our franchise values of Teamwork, Integrity, Respect, Dedication and Fun? Find out how you can be a part of our incredible franchisee culture as an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Partner by completing the form on this page. For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Taps New York City’s Bustling Ports

Growing travel franchise ramps up for rapid expansion into the Big Apple

Cruise Lines International Association reports that 70% of travelers prefer to book their cruises through a travel agent.

Cruise Lines International Association reports that 70% of travelers prefer to book their cruises through a travel agent.

The American cruising boom is exploding into New York City, as Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® announces plans to open 30 travel franchise locations in America’s most populated and most dynamic city over the next five to seven years. The Big Apple is poised for growth, with territories available in the Boroughs, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, and the Bronx.

New York City is on one of America’s largest harbors — New York Harbor — which serves both the populations of New York and New Jersey. That positions the 30 new Expedia CruiseShipCenters for success. Several of the world’s largest cruise lines launch from New York City, making it easy for the city’s enormous population of 8.3 million people to escape from the city that never sleeps and embark on their dream vacations.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ ambitious plan to win an outsized share of the New York City cruising market was recently highlighted in an article in Staten Island Business Trends, a business journal serving the Staten Island community. Staten Island has been selected as the first of the many planned Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel locations in New York City:

“The industry’s boom has led to a sharp increase in visibility for cruising, and companies such as Expedia are flocking to the area,” the article states. “The company recently announced it will be opening more than 30 city locations for its CruiseShipCenters brand, with one of the first to open in Staten Island.”

The article also quotes Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, who has presided over our decades of double-digit sales growth:

“Given the density of the market and the increasing number of cruisers departing from the city’s two terminals, it makes sense for us to focus on New York as a growth region for new franchise locations,” Matthew says in the article. “Our promise is to navigate spectacular vacation experiences for cruisers — wherever they live — and we see enormous potential to reach those customers by bringing our franchise model to New York.”

Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchises are expanding in markets across North America

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has nearly 200 travel franchise locations open or under development in North America, and has plans to open 150 more travel franchise locations over the next three years.
“Our vision is to be the largest cruise retail network in North America and a trusted brand in our communities,” Matthew says. “In the year 2020, I see 500 Expedia CruiseShipCenters, with 300 of those stores in the United States.”

With our course charted for explosive growth, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will continue to be a leader in a thriving, vibrant industry. According to Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that conducts continual analysis of the industry, 23 million people are expected to cruise in 2015. As large as the cruising industry has become, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has grown at three times the rate of the cruise industry overall, enjoying an average sales growth of 20% annually since we launched our brand more than two decades ago.

Our business model is behind our success

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CruiseShipCenters travel franchise has enjoyed a 20% annual sales growth rate over the past two decades.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters generates 10 times the average sales of competing franchise Cruise Planners, and 15 times more average sales (sales per unit) than Cruise One, according to the 2015 Power List in Travel Weekly. There are a lot of reasons for those figures, but perhaps the biggest is our business model — Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchisees sign up to become travel sales leaders, not travel agents.
Because Expedia CruiseShipCenters is one of the top sellers of cruises worldwide, major cruise lines clamor to offer us competitive deals and promotions. The travel franchise then leverages 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.
“You don’t have to explain who you are when Expedia is part of your name — our brand gives our travel franchise owners instant credibility,” Matthew says. “Also, Expedia has about 500,000 hotels in their system and access to a ton of air travel. We bolt that supply and data into a traditional travel agency franchise, and it provides a huge advantage.”

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters mission statement is to “empower our franchisees with a proven system to grow a profitable and valuable business.” This is why our franchise owners operate out of brick-and mortar-retail locations rather than their homes. 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. Given that 70% of customers prefer to book their cruises with a travel agent, according to Cruise Lines International Association, it is of added importance that our customers can trust our brand because we are a visible part of their communities.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Review: Veterans Chris and Larry Dettmer

How a married couple that met in the Air Force created a new career as travel franchise owners in Northern Kentucky

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Veterans Chris and Larry Dettmer just celebrated 30 years of marriage and are nearing their first year anniversary as Expedia CruiseShipCenter franchise owners. The couple had high expectations for the first year and has exceeded their original growth goals.

The Dettmers met and fell in love while they were both in the Air Force, stationed in Arkansas, in the early 1980s. Several years of military service created a lasting love of travel that led them to their new lives in the Expedia CruiseShipCenters network of travel franchise owners. In the Air Force, Larry rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant and traveled to far off destinations such as Korea and Philippines, while Chris rose to the rank of Captain. Their service to their country instilled in the couple a shared commitment to excellence, which they’ve applied to operating their franchise.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is seeking veterans with the entrepreneurial spirit to open travel franchise locations in their communities. Veterans are a great fit for franchising since they often have the skill set necessary to run and manage a streamlined and efficient business, and they have the drive to translate our tested business model into a successful business. Qualified military veterans receive a 15% discount on the initial franchise fee.

This is Larry and Chris’ story:

What were you doing before becoming Expedia CruiseShipCenters owners?

Larry: We met in 1983, when we were stationed on the same base in Arkansas. I did a four-year stint in the Air Force, while she did six years. My experience in the service is something I look back with a lot of fondness now, though, at the time, I knew that I wanted a career in the corporate world. I entered the sales industry, and I spent the next several years working for a few high-profile companies. In the summer of 2013, I was a sales director running a team of seven people. I got word from corporate that I could keep my job, but they were going to be moving me elsewhere. I decided to look at that situation as an opportunity. Luckily Chris and I were in a financial position where we could take a little risk, so we decided to try our hand at owning our own business. This is something that we’ve both wanted to do.

Chris: When I left the Air Force, I started working in the health insurance industry, but I chose to become a stay-at-home mother when we had our two children. I work part-time for a health insurance firm. Now that the children are older — our youngest is a senior at Northern Kentucky University — we decided that we if we were to open our own business, we could be active owners, which is very appealing to us. We have the time and the energy to devote ourselves to becoming successful.

What made you want to open an Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise?

Larry: When we knew that we were going to go forward with going into business for ourselves, it didn’t take us long to discover that Expedia CruiseShipCenters was going to be a good fit. I casually looked at a number of businesses and toyed around with a lot of ideas. I thought, “Maybe I’ll go into the restaurant business,” or “Maybe I can find a business that lets me work with my hands,” but ultimately we decided that travel was a passion of ours. Seeing how popular cruising has become, we thought it’d be a smart business to get into. When I was on the internet doing research, I stumbled upon on the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise, and I immediately filled out the franchise application to get the ball rolling.

Chris: Once we did visit the corporate office in Vancouver, we were both struck by their vision for the future and the pathway to growth. It was a great fit for us.

Larry: Their vision for the future was ultimately what sold us. When we were meeting the executive team, both parties are there to get a sense of the other — to find out if this will be a good match. We left that meeting with a sense of confidence in the brand, as well as their very pragmatic growth strategies and attainable goals. Of course, we did our due diligence before we signed the franchise agreement. We spoke to a lot of the franchisees, and we liked what we heard.

Once you signed the franchise agreement, how fast was the process of opening your new center?

Larry: Once we signed the franchise agreement, we focused our attention on finding the right location. We had initially thought that our center would be in Cincinnati, but once we looked at the demographics of Northern Kentucky, we thought, “This is an area where we could be very successful.” The hardest part of the entire process for us was finding the right location. We looked at a lot of property, and we delayed our target opening date a bit until we found the space that we’re in today. We held a soft opening in December 2014, and we officially opened in February of 2015.

Chris: It worked out better for us that we held out. We’re in a great location — right in front of a major shopping center here. The “Expedia CruiseShipCenters,” sign serves as a giant billboard for us, which helps to attract people to our store who may not have heard about us before.

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What do you enjoy the most about the business?

Larry: 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 as a sales director 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. All of the different kinds of work that has to get done on a daily basis keeps me from becoming complacent.

There’s also the appeal of being in the travel business. During my time in the military, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be my career, I always volunteered to go places. I went to South Korea and the Philippines, for example. One of our goals for my wife and myself is to travel more.

Chris: We’ve always worked with people, and we enjoy that aspect of it. It’s a lot more fun to talk to people about travel than it is to talk to them about health insurance.

What customers does Expedia CruiseShipCenters draw?

Chris: One of the reasons we chose this location is we knew we would attract a lot of customers organically. Just now today, a young couple walked in, and we were fielding their questions and providing them with information on how we can improve their vacations. We get all kinds of people of all ages as customers, which is another reason we chose the Northern Kentucky location.

Larry: One of the benefits of franchising with Expedia CruiseShipCenters is that the corporate marketing team is really on top of things. As franchisees, we contribute to a marketing fund, which we are able to customize to attract our local demographics. It’s far more sophisticated than I had imagined, and the fliers and mailers we have access to are of a very professional quality. Being that the Expedia brand is so big, they have a great relationship with the U.S. Postal Service, so for example, with our last mailer, we were able to get our message to 7,000 people in our area.

How do you recruit Vacation Consultants to support the growth of your business?

Chris: We do use traditional outlets for recruitment. We’ve also had several of our customers become our consultants. We’re in the process of onboarding a retired school principal, which is great because she has the time and resources to make for a successful consultant. That’s a big thing: typically, consultants are women between 40-60 years old, who are passionate about travel and don’t have to rely on us to make ends meet.

Larry: We’re building our team. We have about 15 Vacation Consultants at the moment, and we are trying to get to 18-20 consultants by the end of the year. Of course, our consultants have different levels of engagement, but over the long term we want to have a team of about 30 consultants who are very engaged with this business.

What are the key activities that drive results for an owner, and what are the biggest challenges?

Larry: The most important role that I have to fulfill in this business is to ensure that I support my consultants. I not only have to make sure they are properly trained, but I have to support their personal goals. As a former sales director, I recognize that each consultant is here for a different reason. In a normal work environment, people are working for a paycheck. We’re different because we don’t pay our consultants until after our customers return from their vacations. It’s also important to ensure that a new consultant makes a sale in their first 30-60 days. I make sure to build a pipeline of leads for new consultants to work so that they aren’t starting from scratch. The more success they have, the more they are going to be involved. Their success is our success, and that is very important to remember.

What does a typical day look like in the business?

Larry: There isn’t a typical day. Today I was planning on spending most of my time onboarding a new consultant. However, a client walked in, and he was in our store for three hours. As an owner, you have to be flexible. The one thing that I do on a daily basis is check in with my core group of consultants. They are my first priority, but I am always working my own book of business to keep things going.

What are your goals for your business and how it will affect your life?

Larry: My goal for the first year was to meet or exceed the benchmarks set by the corporate office. We’re on pace to do both, and we will have a strong first year in business. Our franchise performance coach visited our location yesterday, which is the great thing about the level of support that Expedia CruiseShipCenters provides for its franchisees. Our coach keeps us on track to hit our sales goals and helps us to grow the business. We speak to him at least once a month, and he visits with us every six months or so. We need someone who can be in advisory role, who can see our business outside of the day-to-day perspective. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is genuinely interested in our success.

My five-year plan is to grow our travel franchise to the point where I have to hire a bookkeeper. In five years, I want to be at the point where I can work 30 hours a week and travel more. One of the things that the corporate team really stresses is that you want to build a business that has equity. This means that as an owner you can’t be the top producer. So our entire focus is in developing and growing our team of consultants. We want to be 75 years old and have a thriving business that I can hang my hat on.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

Chris: Travel! That’s why we’re in this business.

Larry: I like to play golf in the summer and like to play basketball in the winter. I love to watch the Reds, and we’re also Bengal season ticket holders. Of course, we love to travel. We just got off a cruise where we went to five ports out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. We hope to travel more going forward and hopefully lead some group tours.

Would you recommend Expedia CruiseShipCenters to a veteran thinking about starting a business and if so, why?

Larry: Veterans typically come out of the military with a deep passion for service to their country and a commitment to excellence. An Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owner will use these characteristics to build a successful business that services the local cruising community, helping them to plan the vacations of their dreams.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our opportunity overview pages.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Opens 3 Locations in the Seattle Area

Top-ranked travel franchise continues rapid expansion in the greater Seattle area with future plans to open 14 additional Expedia CruiseShipCenters

With the Pacific Ocean in its backyard, cruising is of vital importance to the dynamic economy of the Seattle – Tacoma metropolitan area. Just how important? According to the Port of Seattle, nearly 960,000 cruisers are expected to depart from the city’s port in 2016, which, in turn, will add millions to the area’s economy.

In order to meet the demand for cruising in the greater Seattle area, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will open three new travel franchise locations before the end of 2015. Two of the new travel franchise locations, situated in the Seattle suburbs of Bellevue and Lake Forest Park, recently opened their doors to the cruising community, while the third location in Sammamish will open for business in November.

“We know that distance to port is a key decision making factor for cruisers,” says Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “We’ve chosen Seattle as a prime market for our travel franchise opportunity because of the fact that the city serves seven of the major cruise lines, who in turn, will launch over 200 itineraries from Seattle in 2016. Following both the industry’s significant investment in the Seattle area, and the rising popularity for cruising in the culture-at-large, we plan to open an additional 14 travel franchise locations in the Seattle area in the coming years.”

Now is the perfect time to launch your travel franchise in Seattle

With a population of over 3.6 million people, the Seattle – Tacoma metropolitan area has a tremendous demand for new Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise locations. Seattle is the primary departure point for most of the Pacific Northwest and with over 7 million people living in the nearby metro areas of Seattle, Portland and Spokane, it is a potentially lucrative market to operate a retail travel agency focused on cruising.

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise has enjoyed a 20% annual sales growth rate over the past two decades.

With two downtown cruise terminals, 11 premier ships depart from Seattle and in 2016, over 203 cruise ships will visit, carrying over 960,000 people.

The positive effect of the cruising industry on the Seattle area is likely to increase as the popularity for cruising in the United States continues to exponentially expand. As recently as October of 2015, Cruise Lines International Association, an organization which conducts continual analysis of the industry, released the findings from their “2014 Economic Impact Analysis,” and the study proves what our travel franchise owners already know – the cruise industry is booming.

“Cruise lines, their passengers and crew spent a record $21 billion in the U.S. in 2014, up 16 percent since 2010 and representing a new peak in U.S. cruise industry expenditures,” CLIA reports in a press release. “CLIA’s 2014 Economic Impact Analysis, an independent study commissioned by CLIA and conducted by Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA), shows that total contributions of the global cruise industry to the U.S. economy reached a record $46.09 billion in 2014, up 4.5 percent from the previous year. This includes generating 373,738 U.S. jobs paying more than $19 billion in wages and salaries.”

Seattle and beyond – Expedia CruiseShipCenters targets port cities for expansion

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has nearly 200 travel franchise locations open or under development in North America, and has plans to open 150 more travel franchise locations over the next three years.

“Our vision is to be the largest cruise retail network in North America and a trusted brand for cruisers in their communities,” Matthew says. “In the year 2020, we plan to have 500 Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations, with 300 of those stores in the United States.”

Seattle

Not only are we seeking entrepreneurs who are passionate about travel to open 14 new travel franchise locations in the greater Seattle area, we have plans to open 30 new locations in New York City, as well as several in every major port city in the United States.

With our course charted for explosive growth, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will continue to be a leader in a thriving, vibrant industry. According to CLIA, 23 million people are expected to cruise in 2015. As large as the cruising industry has become, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has grown at three times the rate of the cruise industry overall, enjoying an average sales growth of 20% annually since we launched our brand more than two decades ago.

Learn More

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Repeat Business Drives Growth for Expedia CruiseShipCenters Travel Franchise

The cruise industry is booming, and more and more customers turn to Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise owners to book their vacations

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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.

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Seventy percent of cruisers book their cruise vacations with a travel agent, according to Cruise Lines International Association.

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.

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters expects to open 30 new travel locations in 2015 and 40 more in 2016.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Review: Q&A with John McIntyre

How one man’s quest for a better quality of life led to a second career as an Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Owner

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John McIntyre with his wife, Rhonda Trundle

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.

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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.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Celebrity CEO discusses importance of Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise in attracting new business

Celebrity CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo explains strength of retail/supplier partnerships

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Top-ranked cruise seller Expedia CruiseShipCenters recently received press for its strong retail-supplier partnerships and ability to attract new-to-cruise customers, as highlighted “Cruise Week” newsletter.

Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who strongly believes that the cruise industry has ignored appealing to new-to-cruise customers for too long, uses blunt language when explaining the repercussions: “As an industry, we’re not talking enough about ways to attract new-to-cruise. That’s why we’re all in the mud talking promotions.”

All of which helps to explain her elation after meeting with Expedia CruiseShipCenters leaders this summer and hearing their priorities.

“My brain was churning about their efforts on first-timers,” she says. “They are all about new-to-cruise. A big goal of my strategy is to get more new-to-cruise. Everybody they bring into the business is about new-to-cruise.”

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It’s only natural that business partnerships tighten and grow when the retail side and the supplier side have aligned business philosophies.

“We need to figure out a way to work with [Expedia CruiseShipCenters] more because they are bringing people to that category,” Lisa says.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters launched in 1987 and is a top seller of cruise travel in North America. Our travel agency franchise is rapidly expanding, with nearly 200 locations open or under development. Our growth is driven by three overarching realities: 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.

Targeting the right audience through marketing strategies

Lisa emphasizes the important takeaways from each of her visits to agency groups this summer. She describes Expedia CruiseShipCenters as “amazing” in segmentation and targeting, both of which tie in neatly with the new-to-cruise focus. And she cited our hiring of new-to-cruise agents as helping to reach new-to-cruise consumers.

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After all, the first-time cruiser issue extends beyond supplier/retail efforts and into every aspect of the business.

“I don’t think our industry does a good job with our traditional marketing dollars in areas that fundamentally change our business,” Lisa says. “Consumers don’t believe pamphlets — they believe other people.”

And that’s where Expedia CruiseShipCenters shines. Our franchise owners’ teams of Vacation Consultants are trained to provide that personal touch and the expertise to navigate the complexities of cruise bookings for new-to-cruisers and experienced vacationers alike.

Cruisers overwhelmingly prefer to book their vacations through a travel agent, and our Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchises are visible, brick-and-mortar, branded locations in the hearts of busy communities. The new-to-cruise demographic has no trouble finding us to book that first experience.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

World-Renowned Expedia Brand Powers Growth for Travel Agency Franchise Owners

Fast-growing travel franchise benefits from association with Expedia, the most recognized brand in travel

Expedia Group® is one of the largest travel companies in the world, reporting $53 billion in gross bookings in 2014, and the travel giant’s name recognition has helped propel Expedia CruiseShipCenters to become one of the largest sellers of cruises in North America.

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The cruise industry’s revenues grew 59% from 2009 to 2015, with 2015 spending projected to hit $39.6 billion, according to Cruise Market Watch. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is perfectly poised to make the most of that growth.

We have been at the forefront of the meteoric rise of cruising in popular culture. According to Cruise Lines International Association, an organization that conducts continual analysis of the industry, 23 million people are expected to cruise in 2015. As large as the cruising industry has become, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has grown at three times the rate of the cruise industry overall, enjoying an average sales growth of 20% annually since we launched our brand more than two decades ago.

“You don’t have to explain who you are when Expedia is part of your name — our brand gives our travel franchise owners instant credibility,” says Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “Also, Expedia has about 500,000 hotels in their system and access to a ton of air travel. We bolt that supply and data into a traditional travel agency franchise, and it provides a huge advantage.”

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has a proven business model

Two decades of consistent growth attracted Expedia Group to invest in CruiseShipCenters travel franchise system. The travel giant knew that cruise vacations were more complex to book than travel products sold through their other online subsidiaries like Expedia.com, Hotwire, and Hotels.com. They also knew that cruisers felt more comfortable booking with a trusted professional; a cruise specialist who could help guide the way — according to CLIA, 70% of cruisers prefer to book their vacations with an agent. So in 2007, Expedia Group formed a partnership with CruiseShipCenters to tap into our network of brick-and-mortar locations and our Vacation Consultants who offer personal service to cruise customers.

Expedia Franchise Opportunities from Expedia CruiseShipCenters on Vimeo.

“One of the reasons Expedia invested in us is the strength of our business model,” Matthew says. “I think our marketing and sales approach are our key pillars. All of our marketing materials go out through our travel franchise owners, but it’s developed by our corporate team and it’s of a higher quality than an individual agent could achieve on their own. It is very sophisticated, and it has a direct impact on driving sales to their businesses. We spend a lot of money on technology every year, and year after year we are told we have the best technology in the business. Our commitment to technology directly helps our travel franchise owners earn a higher-than-normal repeat customer rate.”

How the Expedia brand name helps the travel franchise rapidly grow across the country

As more and more people across every demographic take to cruising as their preferred way to vacation, Expedia CruiseShipCenters will continue to be a leader in a thriving, vibrant industry. According to CLIA, 65 new ships will set sail between 2015 and 2020, which demonstrates not only the continued growth of the industry, but cruise lines’ commitment to that growth.

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise has enjoyed a 20% annual sales growth rate over the past two decades.

Because Expedia CruiseShipCenters is one of the top sellers of cruises worldwide, major cruise lines clamor to offer us competitive deals and promotions. The travel franchise then leverages those deals by creating marketing campaigns — some of which are largely underwritten by the cruise lines themselves. For instance, the brand is able to send out gorgeous fliers at little cost to targeted customers on behalf of its franchisees.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters have nearly 200 travel franchise locations open or under development in North America, and we are in the early stages of a push to open 1,000 locations over the next 10 years.

“Our vision is to be the largest cruise retail network in North America and a trusted brand in our communities,” Matthew says. “In the year 2020, I see 500 Expedia CruiseShipCenters, with 300 of those stores in the United States.”

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

How Do Travel Franchise Sales Compare to Each Other?

In a competitive industry, Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise is a top seller of cruise travel

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has enjoyed average sales growth of 20% a year for more than two decades.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has enjoyed average sales growth of 20% a year for more than two decades.

According to Cruise Lines International Association, 23 million people plan to cruise in 2015. In such a competitive market, travel franchise businesses are competing for customers. While many travel franchise businesses offer similar, work-from-home business models, Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® is winning market share by doing things differently.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters generates 10 times the average sales of competing franchise Cruise Planners, and 15 times more average sales (sales per unit) than Cruise One, according to the 2015 Power List in Travel Weekly. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is our business model. Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchisees sign up to become travel sales leaders, not travel agents.

Why our travel franchise model generates more revenue than our competition

It may be cheaper to buy a Cruise Planners or Cruise One franchise, our business model is designed to help our owners continuously scale their businesses. Our business model is similar to a real estate brokerage, where a broker assembles a team of real estate agents and gives them the resources they need to close deals. An Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner fills the role of the broker. At Cruise Planners, the franchisee is the agent — a talented one can do well, but agents only have so many hours in which they can sell. A broker, however, can always add capacity by bringing in more agents, who generate more sales.

The Expedia CruiseShipCenters mission statement is to “empower our franchisees with a proven system to grow a profitable and valuable business.” This is why our franchise owners operate out of brick-and mortar-retail locations rather than their homes. 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. Given that 70% of customers prefer to book their cruises with a travel agent, according to Cruise Lines International Association, it is of added importance that our customers can trust our brand because we are a visible part of their communities.

The benefit of owning a retail travel franchise

Cruise Lines International Association reports that 70% of travelers prefer to book their cruises through a travel agent.

Cruise Lines International Association reports that 70% of travelers prefer to book their cruises through a travel agent.

While it’s true that home-based travel franchises have significantly lower investment requirements than the Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel franchise, they don’t have what we have. Brick-and-mortar locations boasting the Expedia® brand, which is a symbol of credibility. In a business that’s built on trust, a retail storefront helps you earn it faster than businesses run out of the most professional home offices or meetings at the trendiest coffee shops.

Having a physical space also can be key to building equity in your business — it’s never too late to make plans to sell a business five, 10 or 15 years down the road. Home-based businesses, like many travel franchises, can be more difficult to sell without some tangible assets. Expedia CruiseShipCenters come with a commercial address, computers, desks, chairs — a visible manifestation of the value of the business.
You can also own multiple locations. Brenna and Dan Maurer own Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations in Summerlin and Henderson, Nevada. The couple plans to open another location in Seattle, Washington, in the near future.

“The Expedia CruiseShipCenters leadership team is very helpful, very knowledgeable, and very true to what their expectations are for us,” Brenna says. “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.”

Expedia CruiseShipCenters launched in 1987 and is one of the largest sellers of cruise travel in North America. Our travel agency franchise is rapidly expanding, with nearly 200 locations open or under development. Our growth is driven by three overarching realities: 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.

Vacation Consultant opportunity

If you are interested in a much lower-cost vacation franchise opportunity, investigate becoming one of our Vacation Consultants. For an investment of $299 per month, and then a monthly fee, you receive training and the technology to be a licensed Expedia CruiseShipCenters Vacation Consultant who can work part time or full time, from home or from one of our retail locations. Learn about that opportunity at www.joincsc.com.

Learn more about Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For in-depth details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Review: Q&A with Brenna and Dan Maurer

How one couple strives to live the dream of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner.