The collapse of Shorex Travel follows the failure of agents to dynamically package cruise holidays despite large-scale plans to do so in the future, admitted co-founder Tom Allen.
The company, set up at the end of 2010 by Allen and Doug Mathieson, was reliant on agents booking excursions and hotel stays before and after clients’ cruises, as well as transfers.
The founders, who part-funded the start-up with four private investors, decided to pull the plug on the company yesterday after a deal to get further investment fell through on Monday night.
Shorex Travel will now be put into liquidation and staff made redundant. Three full-time sales and administration staff and one part-time accountant were employed by the company.
Former head of travel trade sales and marketing at Eurotunnel, Tricia Regan, worked on trade sales for the company.
There are a “handful” of passengers currently on excursions overseas, who can continue their trips as normal, and around 120 advance bookings, which agents can rebook to other suppliers, said Allen. Agents hold clients’ money until after they have returned from their trips.
The company had passenger numbers of more than 600 between July 2011, when it set up its bookable website, and the end of 2011, with a cross-section of independent and multiple agents, including Thomas Cook. Sales dropped off in mid-November.
Allen added: “We were probably doing half of what we had hoped to do. Agents were booking with us for a few weeks and then it would tail off so we were working on ways to keep agents and looking at online training.
“Agents told us they loved the concept but when it came to the frontline they were focused on selling the cruise. It was a struggle to get bookings to the right level and yet so many in the industry are working towards building systems to put together their own cruise packages.”
The company had planned to offer its excursions and transfers to clients going on the Titanic Memorial Cruises in April.
Allen is now planning to set up a consultancy business to help businesses on “social engagement” with their clients as an alternative to expensive forms of traditional advertising.
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