ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Christine Ward will soon be sailing away thanks to the annual Appen Cruise Giveaway.
Each week from Jan. 19 to Feb. 28, the Appen Media Group papers – the Alpharetta-Roswell Herald, Milton Herald, Johns Creek Herald and Forsyth Herald – featured the Expedia CruiseShipCenter’s logo hidden somewhere on the printed pages.
Readers, including Ward, found the logo and entered to win on northfulton.com by describing exactly where the logo was found that week. Then in early March, Ward’s name was chosen out of more than 2,900 entries, double the amount from last year.
“I was flipping through the pages and saw the winner from last year. I thought, ‘that’s a fun contest,’” she said. “I never really win anything, but this is a great opportunity.”
In fact, her family thought the email letting her know she won was a hoax at first. But she recognized last year’s winner and knew it was real.
“I sent it to my family and their response was, ‘are you sure this is legitimate?’” she said. “I knew it was legitimate, and the whole family was excited.”
Ward said she’s taking her husband, son and daughter on the trip. She will receive $2,000 that will be applied toward the cruise vacation of their choice, courtesy of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Alpharetta.
Ward, who is the special events manager for the City of Roswell, said she’s been on three cruises before and loves them, but she isn’t sure where she wants to go now.
“We are open to where we go. We want to sit down and see what’s available,” Ward said. “We are open to whatever works out and interests us.”
Alpharetta Expedia franchise owner Vince Bonfanti will help Ward figure everything out.
“This is great fun to see how excited they are and how much they will enjoy it,” he said. “One of the things we like about our jobs is getting to help plan people’s vacations. We get to share in the fun.”
The location is entering its sixth year of business and third year doing the cruise giveaway. There are now 40 consultants who work from the Alpharetta center. The location helped plan over 1,200 vacations for customers in 2016 and has already planned more than 300 for 2017.
“We are growing because people are starting to become aware of the value of booking with us,” Bonfanti said. “That value really is that we are experts, as we cruise a lot and have been on the ships and gone to the destinations. We give people expert advice and it doesn’t cost anything.”
In addition to advice, clients don’t pay more than they would if they booked online, he said. The agency also has discounts on thousands of staterooms, sometimes up to 60 percent less.
There are four Expedia CruiseShipCenters in metro Atlanta: Alpharetta, Roswell, Sugar Hill and Lawrenceville. The company expects to have 40 locations in Canada and the United States in 2017 and up to 500 locations in the next five years.
Roswell location Expedia franchise owner Reid Trego said he and his staff are excited to be part of the company. Their location, 725 West Crossville Road, opened a little over a year ago.
“We want Expedia CruiseShipCenters to be the place people think of when they book a cruise or all-inclusive vacation,” he said. “We’re really excited about the company growing.”