From the October 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Imagine working on an island seven days a week. It's a dream opportunity that Seattle-based travel agency franchise Ships & Trips Inc. has turned into a reality.

After working in the travel industry for more than 25 years, Ken Beebe found it difficult to make a living, given the caps on commissions and increasing Internet competition. So he took his cue from an old movie. "[The characters were] selling apples from carts during the Depression," says Beebe, 51. "I thought, `Can I make a good living if I do away with a lot of my overhead and focus on one or two of my high-profit items?' "

So Beebe designed his own modern-day apple cart: vacation "islands," or kiosks, situated in high-traffic areas such as malls and office buildings. He negotiated an unprecedented arrangement in which he's afforded an exclusive relationship with the cruise lines and other companies he partners with. This allows him to sell land and sea packages provided by a few suppliers at good prices and still earn high commissions.

The first vacation island went up in January 1998 and racked up $700,000 in first-year sales with less than $2,000 spent on marketing. After that success, Beebe launched a franchise program in July.

Have a strong marketing and sales background, along with $22,500 for the franchise fee? Then climb aboard: Ships & Trips is seeking franchisees nationwide to operate its tropical islands.

Power Play

Hockey league scores in the Southwest

By Lori Francisco

Most kids dream of being great athletes and making lots of money. But kids grow up, and so do their dreams. Why not own the team and be the next Ted Turner? Now sports fans can do just that--the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) makes it easy for anyone who wants to run a team of his or her own.

In 1994, Rick Kozuback, president of the WPHL, used his years of experience as an ice hockey coach to develop a professional hockey franchise system for the Southwest, one of the last available territories for that sport. Kozuback developed his idea with Richmond, British Columbia-based pizza franchise Boston Pizza, whose owners are also principal owners of the WPHL.

In its first season, 1996-1997, WPHL started with six franchisee-owned teams and grew to 12. Last season, it finished with 17 teams and plans to add another next year. Future goals include establishing four divisions with a total of 24 teams.

Interested in the opportunity more than the actual world of sports? No problem: Franchise support is available at the sites to assist with implementing all facets of the business. "We're a true franchise system," says Alan M. Weiss, director of franchise development. "We have a support system in place that allows someone who's not a sports-minded person to get involved in the industry by being a franchisee."

The WPHL is looking for investment groups or individuals throughout the Southwest with solid business backgrounds as well as strong community ties. With a total investment of $1.2 million to $2 million, the franchisee must also have the ability to invest in an expansion team and have $750,000 in liquid cash or accessible funds.

Contact Sources

Ships & Trips Inc., kenbb@ships-and-trips.net, http://www.ships-and-trips.com

Western Professional Hockey League, http://www.wphlhockey.com