Expedia Cruise Ship Centers is a chain of travel agencies that primarily book vacations on cruise ships, although they do much more, including land tours and small group tours.
Bill Beaver, a Colorado native, is the owner of the Longmont Expedia Cruise Ship Centers. He had a long career as an IT director before wanting to start his own small business. Beaver settled on the travel industry, inspired by his love for travel. The next step was to decide where to open their store.
Beaver and his wife live in Estes Park, which they knew would not support their venture into the travel industry. The couple decided to expand their search into neighboring cities to see where the home for their business could be. After looking at Loveland and Fort Collins, the couple fell in love with Longmont.
Although travel agencies seem like a thing of the past due to the convenience of booking flights and hotels online, cruise ship travel agencies see a surprising amount of business. According to Beaver, it is a more complicated process. “Eighty percent of people purchase cruises through travel agents,” says Beaver.
Beaver goes on to list all the options that customers face when deciding on a cruise. These options include: which ship to choose, which itinerary, room location and what to do at each port. The abundance of options overwhelms clients and Expedia Cruise Ship Centers found that offering a person to help plan the travel in a brick and mortar store, encouraged more people to choose cruise ships for their travel, according to Beaver.
The cruise ship industry itself is booming with 13 ships having been built in 2018, 18 ships being built in 2019 and a projected 27 more ships to be built in the next ten years. Expedia Cruise Ship Centers is a franchise that began in Canada and has expanded into the U.S. beginning on the coasts.
“Cruising is popular on the coasts because people can drive to the port,” states Beaver. “Cruising, if you never have, is an awesome way to travel. You move in and unpack and then ship moves so you never have to pack again. You don’t really have to worry about traveling because the ship takes you to a place, you get off and have fun, then you get back on and away we go. There is so much to do on each ship.”
The most popular cruises booked through his office tend to focus on Caribbean and Alaska destinations, however, Beaver states that he helps clients find cruises all over the world.
One of the unique things about using a travel agent is that if something goes wrong during the trip, there is someone who can help solve the problem. Beaver mentions that sometimes people confuse the names of towns that are closely named and they appreciate having someone help them find a place to stay or to get back on track.
Beaver suggests that travelers not “wait until the last minute. You can get a lot of deals by waiting but you lose a lot of choices. It is never to early to start planning a cruise, especially river cruises.”
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