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.