Bellevue, WA, February 14, 2017 – The top cruise travel agency franchise in North America, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, announced a record-setting year after ending 2016 with exciting growth. The brick and mortar travel agency chain achieved over $560 million in gross bookings in 2016, with 18% year-over-year growth in fourth quarter gross bookings. The brand also opened 33 new franchise locations and welcomed 1,300 new Vacation Consultants to their network last year. Looking forward to 2017, Expedia CruiseShipCenters expects another record-setting year with 40 new franchise openings projected.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters experienced several major shifts in 2016 that provided a strong foundation for the brand to deepen and expand its roots. From the brand’s President, Matthew Eichhorst, assuming a new role with the Expedia group as the head of global cruise, to members of the Expedia CruiseShipCenters team receiving recognition at international industry events, like Christine Brown’s Rising Star award, the brand is poised to reach its goal of 500 operating locations over the next five years. At every level of leadership within the organization, members are keeping a finger on the pulse of the rapidly changing and thriving cruise industry.
“As we celebrate our 30th year in business, we’re reflecting on all that we’ve done to bring Expedia CruiseShipCenters to the forefront of the cruise industry, and how we’ve stood behind our commitment to deliver professional expertise and a fantastic service experience to each and every customer,” said Eichhorst. “The outlook on the cruise industry continues to strengthen as technology and new innovative approaches to the decades-old trend inspire generation after generation of travelers. The last year was just as impressive for the industry as it was for our brand.”
In 2016, the brand was honored to receive the following awards from cruise line partners: Celebrity Cruises’ North American Partner of the Year, Royal Caribbean International’s National Partner of the Year, Norwegian’s Franchise Partner of the Year and Carnival Cruises’ Outstanding Cruise Rookie Partner. Rounding out a strong year of accolades, the brand was also featured in Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 Franchises.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ growth is in part driven by the recent resurgence in the cruising industry. As noted in the recent Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report, cruises are being offered at lower prices leading to an increase in travelers booking vacations; passenger volume on cruise ships is up nine percent from one year ago. The study also estimates 25.3M passengers are expected to cruise in 2017, up from 15.8M just 10 years prior. Additionally, CLIA reports that 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships are scheduled to debut in the coming year resulting in a total investment of more than $6.8B in new vessels.
With the brand’s proven business model – affordable to start and extremely scalable – combined with its focus on providing spectacular customer service and the rapid growth of the cruise industry overall, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is looking to award 40 new franchises in 2017. The leading travel company is seeking franchisees across the United States, with particular focus on Washington, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and New York which the company has identified as key markets for development. These states, within easy driving distance of cruise departure ports, provide the ideal foundation for a new travel agency franchise.
About Expedia CruiseShipCenters
Expedia CruiseShipCenters provides exceptional value and expert advice for travelers booking cruises and vacations through its network of over 230 retail travel agency franchises. As part of the Expedia group family of brands, the company’s 4,500 Vacation Consultants sell a wide range of vacation products including cruises, flights, hotels, vacation packages, tours, excursions and more. The company has been navigating spectacular vacation experiences for customers across North America for 30 years.