Announcing targeted expansion, Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® unveiled a plan to bring additional travel franchise locations to Texas. Joining five locations already open or under development in the state, the leading travel franchise brand plans to add up to seven locations over the next three to five years.
Folded into an overall growth vision for the brand, the new Texas locations are key to Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ goal to reach the 500 location milestone in North America over the next five years. Texas’s expansion is building off of the success and efforts of local franchisees like Heather Fahle and Patrick Walker in Frisco who have seen tremendous success since opening last year. Specifically, Expedia CruiseShipCenters is looking to target the greater Dallas area, as well as Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
“Given the density of the market and the cruise industry’s increasing focus on domestic cruise departure ports like Galveston, it makes sense for us to target Texas as a growth region for new franchise locations,” says Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “Our promise is to navigate spectacular vacation experiences for cruisers – wherever they live – and we see enormous potential to reach those customers by bringing our franchise model to Texas.”
According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), an organization that conducts continual analysis of the industry, over one million cruisers came from Texas in 2016, accounting for 9.6 percent of all American cruisers. As driving distance to port is a key decision making factor for cruisers, Texas is a prime market for expansion given its significant source of cruisers and close proximity to the cruise port in Galveston.
Cruises are becoming increasingly popular because they offer comfort and convenience while making it easy for people to visit several destinations on a single trip. CLIA reports that the demand for cruising has increased more than 60 percent in the last ten years. The association also points out that the U.S. economic impact of the cruise industry is larger than ever — at $42 billion annually. Cruise lines have responded to that growth by commissioning the construction of more than 97 new ships that are on pace to set sail between now and 2026.
With more than 235 retail locations already open or under development, the Expedia CruiseShipCenters’ franchise network is rapidly expanding. Fahle and Walker are key examples of the varied backgrounds the brand’s franchisees come from. Prior to opening an Expedia CruiseShipCenters location, Walker was in the Coast Guard for 27 years. With a passion for travel and the sea, he sought out a business opportunity to help community members go on their dream vacation. With Fahle being a seasoned small business owner, she was looking for a new investment opportunity to expand her portfolio. A natural fit, the duo partnered up to bring Expedia CruiseShipCenters to the market.
“Being in the Coast Guard provided me with life changing travel opportunities. Upon leaving the Coast Guard, I wanted a career that would allow me to use knowledge from my experiences and give back to the community,” said stated Walker. “After learning about Expedia CruiseShipCenters we spent a few months gathering the facts and the rest was history.”
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