Travelling Against The Trend

Record Growth For Expedia(R) CruiseShipCenters(R)

VANCOUVER, Oct. 28 /CNW/ - Apparently vacation travel is still a high priority as Vancouver-based franchisor Expedia CruiseShipCenters reports 60% growth for the month to date. Total cruise sales have risen 8% year over year and new bookings for 2010 are already up 23%. The company has also opened 9 new locations, including Whitehorse, Yukon with a Fort Lauderdale, Florida franchise set to open in December 2009. A record 700 Cruise Consultants have also joined the team this year, taking the number of agents to over 2,500.

Much of the company's success is tied to its expertise and focus on cruise vacations. "Since 1987, we have held to our vision to be the No.1 Cruise Vacation Specialist In The World", says Michael Drever, CEO and Founder of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. "There are so many options with a cruise vacation that our customers, especially first-time cruisers, want to speak to a specialist even after they've done some research online".

Drever, who has guided the company through radical changes in the travel industry for more than two decades, remains bullish on the future of travel agencies. "We have always believed our Brick and Click strategy would be the most successful model in the long-term because it is very customer-centric," he says. "We are intently focused on building customer relationships and delivering personal service through our 112 retail locations and the websites we provide them. It's the only place online where you'll find every cruise line, in English and French, as well as Canadian and US dollar pricing".

A revolutionary part of that Brick and Click strategy has been to give clients the opportunity to book cruises online. "Each one of our 2,500 agents has their own personally branded Expedia CruiseShipCenters website", says company President Matthew Eichhorst. "We have just launched the first fully automated cruise booking engine that keeps the booking with our individual travel agents. Customers who chose this option still enjoy the same high level of customer service by their personal Cruise Consultant who is behind every booking. Agents are embracing the new technology because they get full credit for the sale."

The company's focus on cruise has also insulated it from the impact of lost revenues from direct bookings of commodity travel products such as air, hotel and car rentals. "Our whole customer service focus is to match the right customer to the right cruise", says Geraldine Ree, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Ree, who spent 17 years with Princess Cruises prior to joining Expedia CruiseShipCenters, has literally grown up with the industry. "For the past 20 years the industry has grown at nearly 8% per year. All of the research shows that the next twenty will be equally strong because the capacity still hasn't caught up to the overall demand," she says.

According to Michael Mutsaerts, Vice President Franchise Sales, Expedia CruiseShipCenters continues to attract new entrepreneurs especially baby boomers who are leaving the corporate world, but not quite ready to retire. "This is an incredibly fun business", says Mutsaerts. "Our Franchise Partners enjoy the benefit of business ownership and a terrific lifestyle". Existing travel agencies are also rebranding themselves to Expedia CruiseShipCenters to take advantage of the brand, technology and centralized marketing services. "Stronger Together is our corporate culture", says Mutsaerts. "It is one of the reasons people choose our franchise."

About Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Established in 1987, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is North America's leading team of cruise vacation specialists. Through its network of 112 franchise locations and over 2,500 Cruise Consultants, the company is a top seller with every major cruise line. In 2007, the company became part of Expedia, Inc. and re-branded as Expedia(R) CruiseShipCenters(R). In addition to numerous travel industry awards, the company has also been recognized for its leadership in the franchise industry, earning the Canadian Franchise Association's Award of Excellence in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

SOURCE Expedia CruiseShipCenters

For further information: For further information: Expedia CruiseShipCenters, John Felice, Vice President, Corporate Communications, media@cruiseshipcenters.com, 1-877-398-9090; For franchise and career opportunities please contact: Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Michael Mutsaerts, Vice President, Franchising, mike@cruisefranchise.com, 1-888-783-0133

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters

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