Owner, GoCruise franchise, Curdridge, Southampton
After years in the cruise business, Oliver, along with his wife Becky, became a GoCruise franchisee this summer. Last month, they spotted a gap in the market and set up a website to sell family-friendly cruises that sail during the school holidays
Q. Why did you set up Schoolholidaycruises.co.uk as an offshoot from your main business?
A. I have two little boys and we love cruise, and when I drop them at school people often ask me when the best time is to go on a cruise in the school holidays. So I put a list together of the most convenient school holiday cruises I could find, then people could see cruises which start and end in the school holidays. I like to find ones that leave from the UK and don’t involve flights, or include flights in the price and have kids’ clubs. I have cruises listed on the site until the start of 2017 and they include destinations, cruise line, dates, duration, prices and a link to a more detailed itinerary on our GoCruise website.
Q. The difference in holiday prices during term time and school holidays is a hot topic at the moment. Do you think term times should be staggered?
A. I have no issue with the school terms as they are, especially as I have two children in different schools and would like to have the same term periods for them. But I don’t think prices should double during school holidays, making them too expensive or meaning parents decide to take their children out of school to go away. An example of the price difference for the same cruise to the Caribbean for 14 nights is £1,200 at the start of December, £2,500-£3,200 during the Christmas holidays and £1,600 after the Christmas holidays.
Q. Why do you believe cruises suit the family market so well?
A. You only unpack once and yet you go to lots of different destinations. There are shore excursions geared towards kids and you can expose your children to different cultures, destinations and educational experiences. It’s a great way for families to spend time together and there are good kids’ clubs that are well-staffed. I believe cruises are one of the best-kept secrets in travel for the family market. You get one upfront price at the start, so you know how much you are spending, and it’s a safe and secure holiday. And you can get some good prices in the holidays! I have just booked a week’s cruise to the Mediterranean for a family for £800 per person including flights, food, entertainment and transfers.
Q. Which cruise lines stand out as particularly suitable for the family market?
A. The two big UK cruise lines P&O Cruises and Cunard do a great job; they also have a lot of cruises out of the UK. Some people might not think of Cunard but they have fantastic kids’ clubs.
Q. How is Schoolholidaycruises.co.uk doing so far?
A. We are getting up to 100 visits to the site a day. It helps that the domain name is exactly what it does and that’s what people type into the search engine. I am working on some enquiries now but it takes time to complete a booking. I am very pleased with the response so far; I think it was the right thing to do.
Oliver’s sales tips
1. When setting up on your own, pick the business model that suits you best.
2. Decide what you are passionate about selling and focus on it.
3. The devil is in the detail: check the ship is family-friendly, the size of the cabin, and the side of the ship it is on – will they see the coast?
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