December 12, 2008 // Franchising.com // Minneapolis, MN — Today, The Travel Franchise Group – North America's largest travel agency franchisor with over 1,700 franchised locations under four brands – announced that two key members of its executive management team would shift into different roles within the company. Peter Thomson, who has served as vice president of Cruise Holidays since 2005, has been tapped to lead The Travel Franchise Group's strategic initiatives squarely focused on ensuring the franchisor's leading role within the future of the travel agency industry. With Thomson's move, Mark Schiffner will assume oversight of the Cruise Holidays brand in addition to his responsibilities for SeaMaster Cruises, which he has led since its creation in 2004.
"Our long-term vision requires The Travel Franchise Group to remain far ahead of the curve in continually reexamining the constantly evolving agency industry and then determining additional winning, forward-thinking strategies and concepts to meet agency owners' needs," stated Roger E. Block, CTC, president of The Travel Franchise Group. "While today's marketplace is seriously challenging the travel agency industry, The Travel Franchise Group is viewing this as an essential opportunity to shake things up in a very positive manner for an even wider array of agency owners seeking common sense solutions. By tapping Peter Thomson to spearhead our strategic initiatives, we envision attracting even more agencies into our franchise portfolio."
Block noted that due to the enormity of the strategic initiative balanced with the ongoing need for continued strategic focus on its existing Cruise Holidays franchisees, Schiffner was selected to ensure no vacuum of leadership for the Cruise Holidays organization.
"We plan to further cement our place as a cruise powerhouse," Block explained. "Mark's work within or around Cruise Holidays for 20 years ensures that he'll provide vital leadership experience in his new role, enabling him to hit the ground running from day one. In addition, his nearly five years of experience at the helm of SeaMaster Cruises will offer a fresh and invigorating perspective to our vital network of Cruise Holidays agencies."
Prior to joining Cruise Holidays, Peter Thomson enjoyed many years of experience in leadership roles in both Rosenbluth International and then American Express. During his tenure, Thomson grew a business unit with accounts of varying sizes to over $150 million in air sales. He was also responsible for the global leadership of multiple travel programs, which operated in as many as 18 countries. Prior to that, Thomson served on the management team of Travel Agents International (TAI) – which subsequently became part of what is now Travel Leaders, another brand in The Travel Franchise Group portfolio – as the senior vice president responsible for all franchise services; he was also a co-owner and chief operating officer of a Travel Agents International franchised office located in Torrance, California.
In addition to helping develop and launch the SeaMaster Cruises home-based franchise operation, Mark Schiffner played an integral role in the development of the Cruise Holidays organization, long before it was acquired by what is now The Travel Franchise Group. In 1989, a group including Schiffner became the Canadian Master Franchisee, charged with developing a successful Cruise Holidays program in Canada. After its 2001 acquisition by The Travel Franchise Group, Schiffner led the Cruise Holidays franchise development team.
"As we look to our future success in this ever-changing marketplace, I am confident that these major moves will provide the critical leadership we need to grow," Block added.
The Travel Franchise Group is North America's largest travel agency franchisor. Part of Minneapolis-based Travel Acquisitions Group, The Travel Franchise Group serves millions of select corporate and leisure travelers through its four franchised brands, including Travel Leaders (formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates), Cruise Holidays, Results! Travel and SeaMaster Cruises. In 2008, for the twelfth consecutive year, one of The Travel Franchise Group's brands was named the top travel business franchise by Entrepreneur's Franchise 500®.
Now celebrating 25 years of serving leisure travelers, Cruise Holidays is the oldest and largest cruise-specialty retail franchise in North America, with stores in both the United States and Canada. Cruise Holidays is also a distinguished provider of land tour vacation packages. SeaMaster Cruises isa home-based, cruise-only franchise organization. In 2008, SeaMaster Cruises was ranked by Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 in the top 15 of all new franchises.