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Expedia CruiseShipCenters Veteran Franchisee Feature: Francis James

Open your own Expedia franchise and be your own boss

Join forces with the largest brand in travel paired with a proven system and over 30 years of experience. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is seeking passionate travelers who are natural leaders to join its expanding network of franchise owners. We are proud to support Veterans and First Responders as they pursue their business ownership dreams by opening a retail travel franchise is their community. Our franchise model is a great fit for Veterans and First Responders where they can apply their previous experience and dedication by leading and developing a successful team of travel consultants.

Francis James – Santa Clarita, CA

Meet veteran franchise owner, Francis James. Francis joined the Expedia family earlier this year and opened his Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Santa Clarita, California. Previously, he had worked for Fortune 500 companies and the Department of Defense and has 35 years’ experience problem solving, leading, managing, financing and business operations. Francis began his career following graduation from the Air Force Academy as an Air Force Officer, serving as a Project Manager for large-scale defense acquisitions. After 10 years of active duty and transitioning to the Air Force Reserves, he became Comptroller for field funds disbursement operations at March Air Reserve Base in California, where he retired as Lieutenant Colonel.  Concurrent with his Reserve role in the Air Force, Francis started civilian life as a Financial Consultant for American Express and Merrill Lynch before becoming a Finance Manager for several corporations. Over the past two decades, Francis has worked in various senior management positions where he gained great mentoring and leadership skills.

Before discovering the Expedia franchise opportunity, he worked as a Senior Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis for a medical technology company. Ready for a new challenge, Francis found the Expedia franchise opportunity and was drawn to helping people plan spectacular vacations while being his own boss. When Francis isn’t running his Center, he enjoys spending time with family including his three kids ages 17, 20, and 23.

Are you a Veteran or First Responder looking to transition into a new career where you can build equity and have a fun lifestyle? You may be eligible for a 15% discount off the initial franchise fee! Click here to learn more about our Veterans and First Responders program.

Learn More

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is committed to setting all franchise owners up for success. We believe your success is our success and we provide franchise owners the tools and support needed to achieve their business goals. Learn more about our proven franchise model and award-winning technology as part of our franchise discovery process by completing 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.

In the News: Expedia CruiseShipCenters featured in Travel Agents Taking Off Film

News-style film highlights increased use and value of booking with a travel agent

The American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) debuted it’s news-style film, Travel Agents Taking off featuring Expedia CruiseShipCenters today at the ASTA Annual Convention in Reno, NV. Reporter Jarret Hill highlights the continued rise of travel professionals – with usage at a six-year high in 2016 according to MMGY and visits the Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Bellevue, WA retail travel agency location.

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.