Franchising provides a relative safety net for small business entrepreneurs by providing experience, expertise, and a proven operating system, in exchange for an initial franchise fee and ongoing royalties. Currently, there are close to 800,000 businesses in North America which are franchised – an increase of nearly 2% over last year. According to the International Franchising Association, the Franchising industry in the US had an economic output of $757 billion in 2018, an increase of 6.2% over the previous year.

Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®, North America’s largest retail travel agency franchise, offers its franchisees an opportunity to enjoy very low overhead in their business with no inventory or employees. Franchisees recruit and train “Vacation Consultants” who are “Independent Contractors” and can be either part-time or full-time. The opportunity provides flexibility to work either within the retail center, from home, or a combination of both.

The thriving cruise market, along with consumer trends and the complexity associated with booking cruises, has allowed Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® to have viable, profitable businesses that reflect its owners’ passion for travel. The company is a full-service travel agency franchise that specializes in cruises while offering a full range of travel products. It has over 300 locations across North America, over 6,800 Vacation Consultants, and over a million travelers who have made Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® their cruise agency of choice.

Although founded in 1987, it wasn’t until 2007 when CruiseShipCenters partnered with Expedia Group and became Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®. Leveraging the trusted recognition of Expedia’s global brand, and their $99.7 billion in buying power, Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® Franchisees enjoy the entrepreneurial freedom of independent ownership while being backed by one of the world’s most successful travel names.

Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® is the fastest growing franchise network in the travel industry’s fastest growing sector. With over 30 years of continued growth, and double-digit growth on average each year, the company’s franchise organization continues to grow at a rate that is three times faster than the industry average. Having awarded a record 31 new franchises in 2019 already, the company is on track to have 500 locations in North America over the next several years. They have also driven record Vacation Consultant recruitment numbers which puts them well on their way to over 2200 new Vacation Consultants. A differentiating factor of Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®’ franchise model is that it is extremely scalable. The retail locations allow its travel agency franchisees to build a team of independent travel agents who share knowledge and work together to drive sales, resulting in more commissions for everybody!

Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® is proud of its ability to lead the way with the latest trends, improvements, and advancements in technology. The goal has always been to provide franchisees and Vacation Consultants with efficient and user-friendly platforms and applications that support a full range of travel products. A key contributor to the company’s technological advancements has been the ability to leverage their dedicated cruise focused technology team as well as the larger technology solutions built by Expedia Group. This has allowed the company to raise the bar for offering the best experience for everyone. Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® is a cloud-based application on AWS and was built using some of the most cutting-edge technologies including Haystack – Expedia’s open source tracing and analysis system – making it resilient and scalable. They also utilize Environics to leverage data about travel behaviors and create solutions based on these data-driven insights. Finally, the company is experimenting with immersive video and virtual reality to show customers what a cruise experience feels like while they’re physically inside one of its Centers.

Authenticity, integrity, the ability to inspire others, and a clear vision are what Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®, considers to be defining qualities of an effective leader. As the leader of the organization, he believes it is important to be authentic, not only for himself, but for every member of the team. Matthew asserts “actions and words need to be congruent with beliefs and values; it’s as simple as being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we should be.” This, in return, makes a leader consistent and the team they work with knows what to expect when dealing with situations, both positive and challenging.

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