This is my second time around as a Travel Consultant. Ten years ago I worked with several host agencies. Many had gone out of business. This time I did a great deal of research to find the right agency to work with. After careful consideration, I chose Expedia CruiseShipCenters of South Tampa. My reasons were that they had a major brand name behind them, they offered a fantastic training program and website tools, it is a brick and mortar agency with the option to work from home and our franchise owners, Rob and Dean, are second to none when it comes to support and travel knowledge. In my first month with them I surpassed my sales goal and in 2019 I have the certitude that I will only continue to grow my business. I am so happy and confident that I made the right choice in host agencies.
Before joining asked about personal perks and was told we get those and lots of agents donor just for that. But once they get your money they tell you you can’t have anything unless the franchise owner approves it. And then want you to make unrealistic sales to be able to get anything. They sign you up to do training with suppliers and then when you finish your not able to get your reward for doing so because of the unrealistic goals and the franchise owner not allowing you to get it. Don’t join this company
I had been working with Expedia Cruise Ship Centers for almost 4 years. I had been transferred 3 different times to different centers. The last one they moved me to seemed great. The owner was very nice and seem to know his stuff. Everything was fine until a few months ago when he just disappeared. Closed the center doors and left with everyone's commissions. The problem is the the corp office will not help you if this happens to you. They will tell you that is the risk you take when you are an independent Consultant. If you get with a center with a long standing rep. You should be good. Just beware, you could lose all you money you worked hard to earn. When they leave the country there is not much you can do.
I immediately regretted my decision to sign up as independent contractor
I received a mailer and thought it would be a good opportunity to work at a cruise agency near my house. I had very little travel experience, and it was not recent. Requested info twice before the franchise owner called back. I watched some videos. Soon they were having their biggest "sale" of the year. I figured this would be lucrative, so, yah, here's $299 for my training.
The training involves a ton of reading or watching slides or videos. Much of it is outdated and doesn't match what you'll see on your computer screen. It goes on forever; I was told it takes 45 days for most people to finish, but some in our office have never finished. One managed to finish in a little over two weeks, and they were at it full time every day. Needless to say, I was still training during the big sale and did not make a single sale.
Nor did anyone else in our center. Not one. The only person who booked any cruises was the franchise owner. We have about a dozen consultants on paper but on any given day the only one who shows up is the franchise owner. Why should anyone show up? We have pretty much ZERO walk-in business.
This is where my experience may differ from yours. My franchise owner was not smart in picking a location. We have next to no foot traffic. Somehow, ECSC franchise advisers okayed this sad location. If your center is visible and busy, you may have a better experience.
This is a 100% commission job. People who work for all commission either (1) have lots of industry contacts and experience so they can hit the ground running, or (2) get hefty commission rates to make up for no salary or benefits, or (3) get "leads, leads, leads" from their company's marketing efforts, or (4) get paid quickly, or (5) at the very least, get perks that make up for the lack of commission.
ECSC offers none of this! NONE!
They bring on people with no cruise or travel experience. So you have to learn the industry and build a business from scratch, which takes time and money.
The commission is pitiful! You'll hear that cruises pay 18% commission, and then you'll hear something about 40%, but until you pencil out what you actually get, you don't realize how small this can be.
Let's say a cruise costs $2000.
First, the cruise line reduces that by maybe 30% for "ncf" or noncommissionable fare, which means they only pay commission on 70% of $2000, or $1400. Then some cruise lines may pay 18%, but maybe the one you sold only pays 15%. So now the total commission is 15% of $1400, or $210. That may seem okay; it's over 10%, but I'm not done yet. ECSC will take 9% off the top as their cut. So you're left with 91% of $210 or $191.10. Still not done. Of that, you'll get 40%, or $76.44. Less than a hundred bucks.
That is actually 3.8% commission. You have to book five per week just to gross $382/week, barely a living wage. To make $30,000 at that rate, you must book $750,000 per year. You will be working your butt off for an entry-level income.
How many hours are you willing to work to make $76.44? Three, four, maybe five? Considering all the time you put in prospecting, researching, communicating with the customer, filling out forms, waiting on hold talking to cruise lines, following up with reminders, five hours would be a miracle. And that doesn't count the time you may spend researching and booking air and hotel, which pay microcommissions, nor all the time you spent training and prospecting and researching for all the prospects who never wind up booking or who cancel.
Also if you want to do one of the nice things that travel agents traditionally do for cruise clients, such as send flowers or wine to their stateroom, it will come out of that $76.44.
Maybe your franchise owner will tell you that your commission rate increases with your sales. That's true — in very small increments, and it tops out at about 52% if my memory serves me, and you will have to hustle to get to that level. Then, instead of $76.44, you'll make $99.32, still under $100.
One other consideration is that unless you're in a very high income location, most people who walk through the door are looking for bargains. They want a cheap cruise. Forget $2000 for your cruise fare; it's more like $500, and takes just as much work.
OK, so points 1 and 2 above are non-existent. The third one, getting leads, is in my experience, extremely limited. I was handed a bunch of dormant leads from literally 3-4 years ago, of people who merely entered the giveaway. Big zero. As I said, no walk-ins in our location, but from what I hear, in other offices there are walk-ins, but the atmosphere is tense and cut-throat, arguing over whose lead is whose.
The fourth point is quick payment. Hah! You get no commission until after the person sails. Considering many cruises are booked a year or more in advance, I really hope you have no bills due this year. Once they've sailed, you will have to wait for your franchise owner to do your paperwork. Mine told me about how one consultant keeps calling asking for their commission but my franchise owner has no time to get to it.
Fifth point, perks. Here is the reason we all signed up, right? All the free travel?! Sorry, it doesn't work that way. There are some actual free trips, which will probably go to your franchise owner, not you. But mostly, the way you save on your own travel is to just deduct what you make in commission. So your $2000 cruise will only cost you ... $1,923.56, because you only made $76.44 commission. Not much of a perk.
Cruise lines do offer special rates for agents, BUT they usually come after you've been working for a year, and have booked at least 5 cruises, for example, or a certain dollar amount. "Fam" trips still exist, but seldom free, and usually require similar qualifications. So, if you can support yourself for a year to qualify, you'll be eligible.
Commissions low and slow, leads few and low-quality, perks disappointing. All together, there is almost no way that you can make a living wage with ECSC. Even if you can arrnge groups, they are a lot of work, and you're not making any more money per cruise. You will probably get a free cruise out of it, so there's that.
If you still are considering ECSC, do your homework. Make sure there is a lot of walk-in business. Talk to the other consultants. As I said, there were none working in my office, so that should have been a red flag. I would have been much better off applying for a traditional hourly job as a travel agent.
I'm kind of wondering how they have stayed in business this long. It almost seems illegal.
Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback on Expedia CruiseShipCenters. We are very sorry that you did not receive the support you needed as a home-based Vacation Consultant. We take a lot of pride in our systems, tools, training and supporting our Vacation Consultants to succeed. We greatly value your feedback and hope you could provide more clarity on your experience to email@example.com, we’ll make sure your concerns are responded to and passed on to our Consultant support team and the franchise owner in your area.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can better serve our Vacation Consultants in the future.
Easy to learn software. Franchise owner is very supportive
I hear a lot of happy ECSC contractors, but in the last year and a half I have seen a lot of new agents come and go at the franchise I work at. First, I made it clear that I wanted to work at home and was told that I could do that. I also travel and wanted to make sure this was compatible with traveling as long as I brought my cell phone and laptop with me on trips. That was also ok, they said.
Agents at our franchise are strongly encouraged to spend significant time in the storefront office. In fact, if you do not put in a significant amount of hours weekly in the office, the franchise partner will not give you leads or transfer clients to you.
I have been constantly nagged about calling prospects, whether or not I feel they need to be called. I have a difficult time hearing on the phone so phone calls are stressful for me but I keep in touch other ways and do make phone calls when necessary. Otherwise, I keep in touch via email and/or online messenger applications since all but one of my customers have expressed a dislike of calls to "check in" with them. I've also placed ads on social media which have brought in new clients but am told that this is "useless" and I should be only calling those in my database. Most of those in my database are there simply because they wanted a chance to win a free cruise.
The last straw was a reduction in the already-paltry commission since I was on a trip and therefore "unavailable" to help the clients even though I had internet, email, and phone access and was told by him that he would "help out" with this and not to worry... never mentioning that he would take the commission for the little he did.
In short, I am terribly disappointed as I feel commissions and working conditions were horribly misrepresented. Therefore, I am researching other host agencies and will be making a change once I get commissions for my current bookings. I might consider transferring to another franchise but the current experience has left a rather bad taste in my mouth.
Thank you for providing your detailed feedback on your experience at your Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise. We are very sorry that you did not receive the support that was agreed upon when you came on board as a Vacation Consultant. We take a lot of pride in supporting our Vacation Consultants to succeed as well as our flexible opportunity that can support different needs/schedule requirements such as yours. We greatly value your feedback and hope you could provide more clarity on your franchise experience to firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll make sure your concerns are responded to and passed on to our Consultant support team and the franchise owner in your area.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can better serve our Vacation Consultants in the future.
The Team at Expedia CruiseShipCenters
Although I am a new consultant, I can already see how the South Tampa center is second to none. Rob and Dean are the most amazing partners, willing to help every single consultant, whether you have years of experience or are the newbie. I feel so comfortable picking up the phone or quickly shooting off an email for additional help and usually within 1 hour I have an answer...and most of the time quicker than that! Not one person in the center or associated with our South Tampa center is all for themselves. Everyone is a team player. We have some real gems in our center! I am so happy that I made the decision to join and start this new part-time career of mine. The tools given to us, and all the training/webinars available is overwhelming but in a good way. There is always room to grow and learn more about our suppliers and I love that. Rob is warm, friendly, personable and willing to help. Dean is our behind the scenes tech guru, always available to partner with marketing materials. Such a perfect team! Thankful to be included!
Expedia CruiseShipCenters S. Tampa is a fabulous place to work. What makes working at this location so ideal, has everthing to do with the leadership and management. Rob is one of the most approachable and caring people I have ever met. He is both knowledgable and generous with his time. He genuinely wants you to succeed and is always available to answer your questions. He is also a terrific sounding board to help make decisions easier.
The success of the South Tampa location is also due to Dean who ia a Co-Owner. His support from behind the scenes is one of a kind. Any technical issue that should come up or one which we need to be notified about, he is happy to answer or help solve. Together, Rob and Dean exemplify what a successful and happy team should look like.
While we are all independent Consultants, Rob and Dean want us all to be successful and I have never felt a negative vibe of competition. Just the contrary. My transition to Expedia CruiseShipCenters S. Tampa has been successful because of the people I am surrounded by on this terrific team.
I was with Expedia CruiseShipcenters of North Raleigh for 2 years. While I enjoyed being a travel agent and the people I worked with, i had a difficult time with illness and other personal matters at one point and needed to cut back on my work load. There is so much work for such little commission, I couldn't keep working at the pace Expedia expected for so little. Expedia was not willing to allow me to take a break. They said I needed to terminate my contract and if I wanted to come back later I would need to pay an additional amount to come back. So, I looked for home-based travel agent opportunities that would allow me to work at my own pace. I was shocked to see how much more you can make as a home based agent. Now that I have been gone, the Agency owner is trying to screw me out of every commission penny that he can. I had 5 bookings for my family, that our contract clearly states belongs to me. He refused to release my own bookings. He said he would sell me my own bookings for the cost of the commissions he would lose by giving them up. I finally had to go to the supplier as a client to have my bookings removed from Expedia as a client, since the owner was unwilling to cooperate. Also, I have 5 cruise sailings that I am owed commissions. The owner doesn't respond to my messages asking when I can receive what is owed me. I spoke with another agent whose contract was terminated around the same time mine was. She said the franchise owner said he would not give her her commissions. From his silence I assume his intentions are the same in regards to withholding my commissions as well. I tried to contact Expedia cruiseshipcenters corporate to report the franchise owners unethical behavior, but apparently there's not a line for this type of complaint. I get bounced from person to person and non one is able to help me. Stay away from this company. They only care about the Franchise owners and don't care about the agents. The commissions are so low, you can do sooo sooo much better elsewhere.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters in South Tampa is an ideal place to work. The franchise owner is one of the most versatile business owners I have ever met. He is a quality leader, leading by example, with a complete open door policy. He trains and coaches all his agents. He provides feedback on all activities, giving the agents advice and encouragement to improve their own businesses. He spends hours each day helping newer agents get their bookings and assisting with the booking engine. He still helps the more experienced agents with questions and assistance, if needed. The franchise owner has leadership skills learned from Disney and other venues. His leadership skills have transformed a two year store into a top three store for all two year operations and in the top 25 for all stores. His dedication to the store and his agents are reflected by the achievements and recognition given by corporate. I am proud and happy to be part of this wonderful operation in Tampa.
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