Bigger, Better, Stronger, Together as Expedia CruiseShipCenters Moves to the Future

with Ming Tappin

A full house pre-cruise reception took place at Expedia CruiseShipCenters H.O. where attendees mingled with suppliers.

Holland America's Tami Normann & Chris Thurlow share a smile with Eric Tan of Expedia CruiseShipCenters Vancouver.

Wade Menard of Princess Cruises catching up with Elaine Kirwin of Expedia CruiseShipCenters Sidney.

Don & Cheryl Adam of Expedia CruiseShipCenters Westwood celebrate their success at the reception.

New franchise partners Morgan and Dan Maurer from LAS (far left and far right) flank father and son team of Jonathan & Jon Harvill from BHM.

The Norwegian team of Ramon Jacinto, Dana Gain & Shanel Knight-Tarver.

On the eve of their annual national conference at sea, Expedia CruiseShipCenters hosted a reception for franchise owners, corporate support staff and travel industry partners at their swanky headquarters in downtown Vancouver. It was a pre-cruise opportunity for many of the 350 attendees to mingle, some meeting each other for the 1st time, others reconnecting with old friends. 

The 5 day conference being held onboard Radiance of the Seas carries the theme "Bigger, Better, Stronger, Together" summarizing the cruise industry's continuous growth, its strengthening partnership with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, as well as internal dynamics of support and relationships between corporate headquarters and franchise partners. The onboard agenda includes a full load of keynote addresses, reports on market conditions, new marketing programs and other tools to guide franchisees toward a competitive advantage and profitability. 

I had the pleasure of speaking to various franchise partners ranging from industry veterans to newcomers. I reminisced with Eric Tan of Vancouver, who was an owner from 1987 to 2008, about the many bygone cruise lines, the mainstay players and newcomers created by mergers and acquisitions or having risen from the ashes of old brands. Throughout the years, the products, technology and business practices have gone from simplistic and manual to a complex and super high tech environment.

Although the industry is now very tech-dependent, one should not ignore the power of high touch. Cheryl and Don Adam of Vancouver's suburban Westwood, still employ the telephone to reach out to clients after 27 years as Owners. They fully believe the human touch is what helps them build relationships with their client base, their personal follow-up generates repeat and referral business to make their Center one of the most successful in Canada with over $10M in sales.

New franchisees from Las Vegas as well as Birmingham were also a delight to speak with. Having been Owners for just under 3 years, the Maurers and Harvills are both operating family-run businesses and credit their success to the great support they have received. Coming to a new segment of the travel industry can be daunting, but the feat is made much easier not only with head office support, but through its vast network of 220 Centers and like-minded colleagues, which is why attendance at these events is so important to them.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters is looking forward to awarding 45 new franchises in 2016, matched by 40+ new ship builds on the horizon. Cruising is alive and well, and that's music to my ears.

This was such a fun event for me to be able to cover since I had previously worked with many of the veteran owners. Upon arriving in Vancouver in 1996, I landed my 1st job at CruiseShipCenters - back when there was only 11 staff at H.O.

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