Travel Franchise Review: Q&A with Sarah and Scott Stouder of Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Sarah and Scott Stouder of Expedia CruiseShipCenters McKinney, TX

What piqued your interest in franchising and in particular to opening an Expedia CruiseShipCenter?

We always knew we wanted to own our own business, but we weren’t sure what that was going to look like for us. Scott’s grandfather started a chain of fast food restaurants in Northern Indiana that ended up franchising, which is where the idea of opening our own franchise first begun. We’ve always loved to travel, and cruise in particular. When we came across Expedia CruiseShipCenters we felt like this presented the perfect opportunity to blend our passion for travel with our desire to run our own business.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to open their very first franchise?

Do your research, ask lots of questions, and trust your gut. We left no stone unturned throughout the decision-making process. And the Expedia CruiseShipCenters corporate team was incredibly helpful at answering our questions and guiding us through the entire process. It was clear from the very beginning that Expedia CruiseShipCenters would deliver a level of support for us that was unmatched by any other franchise model we considered. That was a huge selling factor for us.

What aspect of this business do you enjoy the most?

The travel business itself is just fun! Whether it’s researching a new destination or matching a client with the perfect cruise, every day presents the opportunity for something new and different. You never know what exciting adventure might walk in the door.

Being parents to young children and opening a new franchise is no small feat! How do you two balance your work and personal life?

Our family will always be our number one priority and that was something we made clear with Expedia CruiseShipCenters from the beginning. They are an incredibly family friendly business and were very supportive of us modifying our center hours to accommodate our current stage in life. We have dedicated family time each evening to spend with our girls. We put the phones down and try and spend a few hours solely focused on family. We also created a play space for our girls at our center for the times they do come with us to the store, which helps us balance some of the practical realities that come with operating a retail-based business with small kids in tow.

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

In today’s highly technological world, customer service is beginning to be a lost art. Our goal is to provide our customers with an amazing vacation experience starting from the moment they begin planning their trip until the moment they come back home. We promise our clients we are with them every step of the way and we truly mean that. We celebrate every booking so everyone knows we appreciate any and all business.

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

Our business would not be where it is today without the ongoing support of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters corporate team. They have been dedicated to helping our business grow and succeed from the very beginning. Whenever we need it, help is literally just a phone call away. The corporate team truly cares about us and our business. Hands down there is no better support team out there.

Where do you see your business in 5 or 10 years? Center?

Our 5-year goal is to become the largest travel agency in McKinney. Our 10-year goal is to have multiple centers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

What is one of your favorite destinations you’ve visited?

Sarah – Italy is an amazing country with a lot to offer, but the colorful towns of Cinque Terra are by far some of my favorite! The hike between the five towns provides the most spectacular ocean views (as well as quite the work out)! If anyone wants to travel to Italy, they should make sure Cinque Terra is on their list of places to visit while they are there.

Scott – Africa is a magnificent country and there is so much to see and do there. While I initially traveled there to do mission work, I look forward to going back and spending more time exploring all this region of the world has to offer.

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