The 2009 Expedia® CruiseShipCenters® National Conference aboard Carnival Splendor® kicked off in high spirits as over 250 franchise owners, cruise line representatives and corporate support staff embarked for a week of learning, networking and strategizing for the year ahead. “We’ve just come out of our most successful growth month ever with October bookings up 72% over last year,” said Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, “And if that isn’t enough great news, as of Saturday we’ve added 900 new Cruise Consultants to our team in this year alone!“

Eichhorst’s opening anchored the company’s positive results this year to the attitude generated from last year’s conference. “We are an organization that chooses to look at things with a cup half full mentality,” he said. “We invested over $1.5 million dollars in our CruiseDesk® technology, increased our marketing spend by 30%, all while decreasing costs to our Franchise Partners.” His presentation, Living by Your Business Plan, also provided attendees with practical tools to help manage and grow their business over the next 3 years. “Your business plan is a living document; it is an ongoing process that needs to be reviewed on a regular basis,” he said.

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Geraldine Ree, followed by exploring the five components that make up the company’s marketing, sales and customer service system, which are encapsulated in the conference theme of Customers for Life. “From the moment we attract a customer’s attention, to the time they purchase and enjoy their cruise experience, every single point of contact we share with them must be exceptional,” said Ree. “Customers for Life is not just a loyalty strategy, it’s a business system that is embedded in our company culture.”

The week-long cruise includes a blend of presentations, workshops, roundtable forums and scheduled one on one meetings, as well as plenty of time for fun with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.