A 2015 Port of Vancouver survey of the city’s cruise passengers found that two-thirds used a travel agent to book their vacation.
In contrast, an April report on Statistic Brain found that 57 per cent of all travel reservations are made online.
The comparatively high percentage of cruise passengers using travel agents highlights the influence that those professionals have. It also bodes well for Vancouver, given that the city just finished hosting the world’s largest gathering of cruise-industry travel agents: the Cruise Lines International Association annual conference.
Travel agents at the convention had the opportunity to board some docked cruise ships to learn about layout and amenities.
The conference was also helpful for executives and staff at Vancouver-based Expedia CruiseShipCenters (ECSC) which franchises cruise-sector travel agencies.
“There’s something like 80 new ships already scheduled to be built in the next five to seven years,” said Mathew Eichhorst, CEO of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. “That’s a 35 per cent increase just in capacity alone. So we’re in quite an accelerated-investment time given that the industry itself only grew 9.5 per cent in the past five years.”
Last fall, Eichhorst’s company moved 143 employees into a new 28,000-square-foot office in downtown Vancouver.
ECSC’s franchisee growth is also at cruising speed. The company has approximately 200 franchisees with 25 more in development. Three-quarters of those franchisees are in Canada.
“By 2020, we’ll have 500 franchisees total with about 300 in the U.S. and 200 in Canada. So it’s 33 per cent growth in the next five years in Canada but significantly higher growth in the U.S.”
Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchises in business for at least three years have a median net revenue of $172,790and the startup costs range from $99,430to $183,900, according to the company. Franchise candidates should have at least $50,000 in liquid capital to invest and a minimum net worth of $250,000.