FRANCHISES FROM IN FRONT OF THE STORE BECOME STRONG
While the number of door-to-door agents has proliferated in recent years, franchisors of more traditional models – Expedia Cruises, Travel Leaders Network, American Express and BCD among them – are equally optimistic about their businesses.
While they have some aspects in common with in-home models, purchase costs and ongoing overheads are not among them.
And most physical franchise agencies are leisure / business hybrids, with one notable exception: Expedia Cruises.
Since the start of the pandemic, Expedia Cruises has added more than 20 franchisees, as well as the number of agents needed to operate these locations, according to Chairman Matthew Eichhorst; in total, there are over 5,000 Expedia Cruises agents.
Eichhorst strongly believes in brand consistency that results from both franchising and Expedia brand strength (Expedia Group is # 1 on Travel Weekly’s 2021 Power List). By the very definition of an “independent” entrepreneur, a hospitality agency cannot impose brand compliance on an IC, he stressed. The consistency of the Expedia Cruises brand, combined with behind-the-scenes technology, is what makes Expedia Cruises so successful, he said.
Shawn Friesen bought his first Expedia Cruises franchise in 2007, opening it in Ontario. And according to Eichhorst, the name Expedia called him.
“If you were to buy a pizza franchise, you would want Domino’s, not Bob’s Pizza,” he said. “I knew the technology was best in class. He had the best chance of success.
Friesen’s sixth franchise store will open on January 1 and it has plans for four more storefronts beyond.
“We really believe in the model for sure,” he said.
Travel Leaders Network also offers franchise opportunities, but the opportunity is a “conversion franchise,” which means only existing agencies are considered, President Roger Block said. There are no in-home options and there are requirements based on agency size and other factors (for example, that the agency has both an ARC appointment and a GDS ).
Travel Leaders franchisees tend to be like BCD affiliates and American Express Travel franchisees, in that they focus on both business and leisure travel, Block said. Many of the services provided by franchisors tend to be focused on business travel.
“You’re really talking about a select group of agencies that can afford the monthly fees, but can also take advantage of the services that we provide,” Block said.