Maryann Kiley spent years in the now-ailing newspaper industry, primarily in sales and advertising.
After three rounds of “downsizing,” at her prior company, she figured it was time to change directions.
“I [had] to do something good for me,” she told GreaterBayShore.
So she did.
With help from a franchise coach, she and her husband, Pete, focused on their passions, and carving out a business niche.
They landed on the travel industry.
In December, the West Islip couple, avid travelers themselves, opened an Expedia CruiseShipCenters location at 3 West Main Street near Maple Avenue, right in the heart of downtown Bay Shore.
Maryann runs the business full-time and Pete, a Federal Aviation Administration employee, helps where he can.
The business currently offers services from eight travel consultants, including the Kileys, but they hope to grow to 25 or 30 people.
Maryann, a Babylon Village native, said the couple’s franchise territory spans from Great River to Babylon.
When they needed to decide on a location within their allotted territory, they knew Bay Shore was the ideal spot.
“I think our location is great. I feel like [Bay Shore] has really been picking up steam,” Maryann said. “I think this community is really passionate about their community, and I feel like they support their local businesses.”
Although they’ve only been open six weeks, potential vacationers have already started coming in.
ExpediaCruiseshipCenters is a one-stop, all-inclusive travel agency, which means they book airfare, land vacations, resorts and cruises.
The business has booked a few land vacations so far, including a trip to Iceland and another to the Almafi Coast in Italy, Pete said.
There’s minimal foot traffic on Main Street in the winter months, Maryann explained, but she thinks they will see a big uptick come springtime.
Community outreach, personal contacts, and creating a network, Maryann believes, will help the new business get off the ground. She said a colleague who owns a location in Merrick gives the couple business advice and assures “there is plenty of room for all of us,” Maryann said.
The Kileys, who will also be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this year, have never owned businesses, but certainly, Maryann’s sales and marketing and advertising experience is a huge plus, they said.
“Pete’s been on the technical side, so he’s my tech guy,” she said, smiling at Pete. “But he’s really enjoying the sales side, which is shocking to me.”
“I’m not very social,” Pete joked.
But being in travel helps because people are largely in a good mood; it’s not like needing to get your car repaired.
“People walk out of here happy that they’re going on a trip,” Pete said. “It’s a lot of responsibility so we want to make sure it’s the best trip possible.”
Maryann says the business is going “nowhere, but up.”
“It’s a whole lot easier to sell someone a vacation they want to go on then to sell a newspaper ad, especially today,” she said. “For some people, you’re providing them a bucket list trip, for other people, it’s just a family vacation. Whatever the case may be, these are sometimes people’s dreams — and helping them to achieve them is a nice thing.”
Maryann and Pete Kiley at the couple’s new Expedia CruiseShipCenters location in downtown Bay Shore this week. (Credit: Ana Borruto)