Cruise excursions start-up targets lines’ ‘monopoly’

Cruise excursions start-up targets lines’ ‘monopoly’

A shore-excursions company offering up to 18% commission is launching to stop cruise lines “monopolising” the sector.

Tripashore, which will be run by former MSC Cruises employees Lee Strongitharm and Craig Jeffs, is part of the A2B Travel Extras group. It launches on November 27 and will offer three types of excursions: the main product, a budget version, and bespoke tours arranged in partnership with agents.

Jeffs said: “For far too long, lines have monopolised the cruise market.

“UK cruisers book £150 million of cruise tours, so this is a very big market. As it stands, 97% of shore excursions are booked through cruise lines, but we want to help grow the proportion booked through the trade.

“We believe the total potential spend of cruise tours is £500 million. That means there’s £350 million in sales up for ?grabs – and masses of commission for agents.

“It’s a great proposition for the trade and we’ve had great feedback from the agents we’ve spoken to.”

In 2011, Cruising Excursions pioneered the market, while Attraction World shut a cruise arm in January after less than a year.

Admitting there was sometimes a misconception about third-party operators offering “low-price, low-service” propositions, Jeffs said: “Cruise lines would have customers believe that there’s a risk when booking with companies such as ours. There is no risk, as we provide a guarantee to get customers back to the ship or to the next port if needed.”

Trade marketing and training tools are being created, while a TV campaign will be launched to raise awareness among consumers.

When the site goes live, agents will be able to book excursions through to April 2017.

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