For many small business owners, the city of Madison is the perfect place to start a company.
Kevin and Sarah Niles have recently arrived in Madison to open their business, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, as part of the franchise Expedia, a travel network owned by Expedia Inc. But their primary focus is on cruises.
However, they do offer other trips other than cruises, Kevin Niles said, such as all inclusive resorts, safaris in Africa, hikes through the Rocky Mountains and group vacations.
“Madison is a great location where people love to live and stay past retirement, as well as go to school here and love to travel the world,” Kevin Niles said.
Kevin Niles said CruiseShipCenters was looking to expand. They picked Madison because it didn’t have any locations.
University of Wisconsin economics professor Charles Engel said new entrepreneurship can aid Madison’s economy.
“[Businesses] push up wages, and attract workers to Madison. Higher wages are certainly better,” Engel said.
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Their business is tailored for detailed or different vacations, Kevin Niles said. When it comes to booking airline tickets, it’s easier to go online and book. But when it comes to complex travel, it’s much easier to speak with a travel agent, Kevin Niles said. 70 to 75 percent of all cruises are booked through a travel agent, for example.
“When you do more complex traveling, most things are done through a travel agent,” Niles said.
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To keep himself busy in times of lull, Kevin Niles said he aides to the details of a customer’s trip.
Each day he responds to emails, phone calls and inquiries people have about traveling. This includes talking to people who have already traveled as well as those who want to.
“I’ll look into what people want to do, do some research on it, and get back to them with different quotes and prices, different options, different things to do,” Kevin Niles said, “We can go from there to help them find the right travel package for them.”
Ultimately, Kevin Niles helps interested travelers plan their trip. He said he believes in building an interpersonal relationship with the community to do so.
One perk of his businesses, Kevin Niles said, is the close relationship he fosters with his customers. He said he gets to know his clients and their preferences.
From there he is able to work on both family-orientated trips and trips for solo travelers. Kevin Niles himself is married with six kids, and believes it is very possible to travel with a family. He said their business can help accommodate anyone’s needs.
The target range are people ages 55 to 75. Kevin Niles said more people in this age group are inclined to travel because their kids might have moved out, or they have more time due to retirement. But, there are still a lot of millennials who travel.
“We try to focus on finding the best value for what people can spend,” Kevin Niles said. “It depends what people want to experience and what they want to get out of it.”
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Typically, Americans tend to travel to the Caribbean, Kevin Niles said. He believes the Caribbean is a versatile place for families and people of all ages.
Currently, Kevin Niles is looking for a travel consultant to help serve beyond the Madison community, especially right outside of it. He’s hoping for a travel consultant that can adhere to places like Sun Prairie and Baraboo.
Additionally, Kevin Niles encouraged interested students to come to his place of business to learn more about the travel industry.
“If a student is interested in learning more about the travel business, and wants to do some work within the travel business, we’ll definitely be open to helping people’s mind and opportunity to do so,” Kevin Niles said.
The office opened two weeks ago on Mineral Point Road.