In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Reversing the Tide featuring Bob Tipple, VP Franchising

The article was published in May 2019 in Cruise Week

Bob Tipple, VP franchising, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, reports how this company is expanding in an unexpected way: storefronts.

The fact that a company with “Expedia” in its name is becoming a force in brick and mortar cruise selling is one reason Tipple’s report is not just a boring story of growth. But numbers do help tell the story: “We’ve got 37 more [franchisees] in development as we speak, so this will definitely be a banner year for us,” says Tipple.

Right now, the primary focus of expansion is the Southeast: “We’ve grown exponentially in Florida over the last couple of years, and now Georgia with several multi-unit locations,” notes Tipple.

Moving forward, the Northeast will be a focus. “Also, our focuses are Texas, California, and Illinois, as the greater Chicago area is gaining traction,” he says.

One reason Tipple is confident growth in storefront locations will succeed is that it comes in tandem with cruise expansion: “These five, six thousand passenger ships are just an absolute boon for capacity. And they need us to help fill those cabins.”

The Big Myth
While Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ foray into physical retail locations is not what one might expect from the Internet giant, that’s not the only unexpected thing about this expansion. Just ask John Q. Public what they would think of a successful web company opening a bunch of storefront cruise agencies.

Says Tipple: “When you ask the average person on the street about [storefront] travel agencies, they go, ‘Oh, retail travel agencies? Aren’t they going away? Or haven’t they gone away?'”

He calls it “a big myth” but one that is understandable. “When is the last time we ever would’ve walked into a travel agency to book a flight or a nice hotel somewhere?” asks Tipple. “It’s just way too convenient to do it yourself, and we’ve been trained over the last 20-odd years to do that online.”

But, he continues, using phrases everyone in this business has heard regarding cruise sales: “When it comes to cruising and the complexity and the higher cost of a cruise vacation, that’s where the expertise and the guidance from a travel professional is really gaining steam.”

Enter The Young
The third unexpected feature of Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ expansion is that younger people, relatively speaking, are coming into the business as franchisees.

Tipple draws a contrast with home-based consultants and franchisee operators in this regard. “Regarding the home-based consultants, I would say a lot of them are in a second career,” he says. “But as we bring brand new franchise partners on board, that group is getting younger.”

Specifically, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has opened franchises over the last two years where a lot of the owners grew up cruising with their parents or grandparents. “Some owners are in their late 30s, and many are in their 40s,” he reports.

And oftentimes, a younger franchise owner coming into the business is looking to recruit a team of people in their same general age group.

“So they’re not necessarily going out to look for the 62-year-old second career person,” says Tipple. “They’re looking for somebody who wants to build their own business as a travel consultant. They’re looking for people who have their own circle of influence.”

Whether at home or storefront, he says the demand is growing. “Now these new Gen-Zs are coming along. These people do all their research online, but they don’t know what to do when they finish the research. That’s where the help of a real travel professional comes in.”

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.


In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® One On One With Matthew Eichhorst


The interview was published in May 2019 in Thrive Global

I spoke to Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, about his journey and best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Matthew: I’m a blue-collar guy in a white-collar job. I got my taste for entrepreneurship cleaning and then installing swimming pools, and my dad was a longshoreman for 42 years. While I’ve since transitioned from installing swimming pools to managing companies, I haven’t strayed far from my roots. Once I’m out of the office and I’ve shrugged out of the white collar, there’s nothing I’d enjoy more than cruising around on my Harley, or exploring new terrain on my dirt bike with my son.

Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Matthew: My journey towards becoming President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters was an indirect one. I was president of a tech company, and Expedia CruiseShipCenters was a client. I had built a good relationship with Michael Drever, the company’s founder, and after working together for several years, he contracted me to help accelerate and structure the business for growth. As I learned more about the business and the cruise industry, I realized that this was something I wanted to be a part of. In a few years I purchased equity in the business, and shortly thereafter I was appointed president.

A setback that was instrumental to my growth happened early on in my career, in which the business had an over reliance on one customer. While loyal and reliable customers are certainly the lifeblood of any business in that you’ll enjoy predictable cashflow and secure a platform for growth, I learned that for your business to be fiscally responsible, you need to have strategic diversification. At the end of the day, we aren’t able to control the factors that influence our customers, and if our fortunes are tied to theirs, whatever problems they experience will ultimately affect us as well.  While I had to learn this the hard way, now it has become second nature for me to think strategically and to make decisions that will enable the business to reduce risk and boost sales growth at the same time, protecting long term sustainability.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Matthew: In my experience, integrity, the ability to inspire others, and vision are defining qualities of an effective leader. A strong leader will choose to do what’s right rather than what’s expected, to put in motion actions that will inspire others to do more and become more, and have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish, where they are going, and how they intend to get there.

Leaders and aspiring leaders can take their leadership skills to the next level by fueling their curiosity and their desire to constantly learn and grow. The world around us is constantly changing and evolving, and to be able to lead effectively, we need to do more than just stay abreast of current trends – we need to stay ahead of current trends. The only way to do this is to keep learning. Never stop asking questions, never stop being curious, and never stop striving to be better.

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives, leaders?

Matthew: Lead by Example: Showing, rather than telling, sends a powerful message of who you are and what your expectations are, and if you set an example, those around you will start to follow. If you want your employees to be punctual, make it a point to be on time for every meeting. If you want your team to be hard workers, demonstrate that you don’t shy away from getting your hands dirty and putting in the long hours if necessary to get the job done. An effective leader is able to practice what they preach, and by doing so, they earn the loyalty and respect of those around them.

Matthew: Learn How to Communicate: To lead effectively, you need to be heard and understood, and equally important is that you need to be able to listen to those around you. Effective communication is a two-way street, and a good leader is able to express their ideas and strategies clearly and persuasively, while also listening to the concerns and feedback of others with an open mind. Through clear communication, goals and visions can be aligned which allow action to be taken collectively and powerfully.

Matthew: Make Self-Assessment a Regular Habit: Leadership is a continually evolving process, and to be a better leader, it’s important to regularly assess your skills, your opportunities for growth, and your management style. By assessing yourself regularly, you’re able to keep track of your goals, and you’ll get a better understanding of what’s working for you and what isn’t so you can start to make changes to stay ahead of the game. In doing this, you’ll be developing a leadership style that truly fits you best.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you ever received?

Matthew: The best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from Aman Bhutani, the President for Brand Expedia Group, who encouraged all of us at Expedia to become better versions of ourselves by making something one percent better from the day before. The notion of taking small, incremental steps every day really resonated with me, because it’s applicable to both business and personal growth. To grow your business, make that one extra call to a potential customer. To improve your health, that those extra five minutes out of your day to go for a quick stroll outside. While these small actions don’t sound like much, if you keep this up every day, the improvements will start compounding, and that will gradually lead to the change you want. In time, you’ll start to see improvements in different areas of your life, and all it takes is a commitment to become just a little bit better than you were yesterday.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Matthew: Many people have been instrumental in helping me along my professional journey over the last 40 years, and if there is one thing that everyone should be doing to pay it forward, it would be to take the time to help other people. You can consider becoming someone’s mentor as there are always aspiring young leaders who could benefit from your knowledge and experience, or you can simply say “yes” when someone seeks your advice or help in any way shape or form.  How you define “helping others” is entirely up to you, but at the end of the day, it’s about extending a helping a hand to someone else when you have the capacity and power to do so.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Matthew: I’ve been golfing for many years now, and what I enjoy about the sport is that it teaches me how to stay focused. Golf requires an enormous amount of concentration and the ability to stay present to the task at hand, and this is a skill that has certainly benefited me in my career. Off the golf course, I’m able to stay focused on my goals, to think clearly and rationally, and make sound decisions.

Dirt biking is another hobby of mine that I enjoy. In fact, I’ll be going on a two-week trip to Mongolia this summer with my 17-year-old son after he graduates from high school, so we can go dirt biking around the Gobi Desert. What I enjoy about dirt biking is that allows me to tap into my adventurous side, and to spend quality time with my children.

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.


In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Rides Growth Wave in 2019

Cruise Industry Leader Celebrates 2018 Milestones; Looks to Build on Innovation and Growth in 2019

The article was published in March 2019 in FranchiseHarbor.

BELLEVUE, Wash., March 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The top cruise travel agency franchise in North America, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, announced a milestone-heavy year for the growing brand. In 2018, the brick and mortar travel agency awarded its 100th franchise in the U.S., signed its first multi-unit deal, and exhibited 17 percent year-over-year growth. Riding this wave of momentum in 2019, the company expects another high performing year with 35 new franchise locations projected to open.

Adding to the several notable growth achievements over the past year, Expedia CruiseShipCenters awarded 26 new franchises and achieved over $790 million in gross bookings in 2018. The brand also received industry recognition, winning Carnival Cruise Line’s Retail Partner of the Year Award, Holland America Line’s Franchise Agency Network Award, and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Canadian Retail Partner of the Year, among several others. Most notable, Expedia CruiseShipCenters was ranked on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise 500 ranking. The prestigious ranking is a testament to the brand’s ability to grow its footprint across North America while continuing to provide unparalleled franchisee support and customer service.

“2018 was a strong year for the brand, as we achieved some new milestones, won a series of supplier awards, and continued to build on the success from last year,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “We hope to keep this momentum going in 2019, and with our continued focus on agent recruitment and retention, and our plan to incorporate technology and data to drive our consumer outreach, I believe this will be another incredible year for us.”

In 2019, Expedia CruiseShipCenters has eyes set on key markets throughout the U.S. for development including Florida, Texas and California, Georgia, Illinois, and Washington.

With the cruise travel industry expected to continue its rise throughout 2019, Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth is in part driven by this continued demand. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report, more than 30M passengers are expected to cruise in 2019 – a 34percent increase from five years prior. Additionally, 24 new ocean, river and specialty ships are scheduled to debut this year, with more than 125 new ships coming online between now and 2027.

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Newest Center in Louisville KY

We are happy to announce Linda Caso has opened the doors of our newest Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Louisville KY.
Linda’s Center is located at 4110 Summit Plaza Dr.

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.

In the News: Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Inks First-Ever Multi-Unit Franchise Agreement

The article was published in February 2019 in PRNewswire.

ATLANTA, Feb. 19, 2019/PRNewswire The top cruise travel agency franchise in North America, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, has just announced the signing of its first multi-unit franchise agreement. The multi-unit agreement will bring three new locations to Georgia over the next several years. Folded into an overall growth vision for the brand, the new multi-unit franchise opportunity provides motivated entrepreneurs an opportunity for aggressive business expansion. As Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to expand its presence in North America, the company is on track to reach its goal of opening 500 North American locations in both Canada and the United States over the next five years.

The Georgia multi-unit agreement is spearheaded by husband and wife team, Wil and Ayten Mauk. The long-time residents of Atlanta will debut three new locations throughout the state by 2023. The first location is currently in development in the Dunwoody area and is slated to open April 2019. The new locations will join five existing Expedia CruiseShipCenters locations throughout Georgia in Alpharetta, Lakeland, Lawrenceville, Roswell and Sugar Hill.

“We could not be more excited to open our new locations throughout our home state. We wanted a career that combined our love for travel with the challenge of taking on an entrepreneurial role,” said Ayten. “With a well-known brand like Expedia Group, paired with the value of having a storefront to interact with our customers, we feel well-positioned to help our community plan their perfect vacation.”

Expedia CruiseShipCenters opened 22 new franchise locations and welcomed over 2,000 new Vacation Consultants in 2018. Riding this wave of success, Expedia CruiseShipCenters plans to open even more locations this year with a particular focus on the southeast.

“It is an exciting time to join the Expedia CruiseShipCenters family. After more than 30 years, our proven system has evolved to suit franchise partners interested in building an empire with our multi-unit franchise opportunity. As the cruise industry continues to surge, our Centers are able to meet the demand in the market,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “We are continuing our expansion into more communities across the country, and we are seeking both single and multi-unit owners like the Mauk’s who want to pursue entrepreneurship in a retail business that they are passionate about.”

With the cruise travel industry expected to continue its rise throughout 2019, Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth is in part driven by this continued demand. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report, more than 30M passengers are expected to cruise in 2019- a 34% increase from five years prior. Additionally, 24 new ocean, river and specialty ships are scheduled to debut this year, with more than 125 new ships coming online between now and 2027.

For more details about the Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise opportunity fill out the form below or take a look at this six step overview of our retail travel agency franchise opportunity here.