Having launched onto the market late last year, there is little doubt that shore excursion provider Tripashore has made ripples across the industry. Their plan, according to CEO Lee Strongitharm, is to disrupt an industry that has remained unchanged for too long. Shore excursions, the company believes, are an apple ripe for picking. When you look at the facts its not hard to see the potential. The industry is worth billions. That cash is a huge potential revenue earner for travel agents too, many of whom don’t currently make commission on shore excursions. Interest piqued?
We sat down with Craig Jeffs, Tripashore’s head of sales to find out how the first few months of operating have gone.
Cruise Adviser: How have the first few months gone?
Craig Jeffs: All of our financial performance targets have been exceeded so fare. We have had a great response from our travel agent partners and booking for cruise tours departing in May and June are in high demand. Within a relatively short space of time we have launched our European tour programme across 24 ships dominated by UK guests. The average booking value is £382 and the relationships that we have been built mean foundations for a hugely successful future have been set.
What are you currently working on?
We have two main focuses at present. Firstly, and most importantly, we are supporting our travel agent partners in how to market and sell cruise tours. This is something many travel agents haven’t traditionally invested in, mainly due to the fact there hasn’t really been any earning potential. Secondly, we are building more product as well as our brand, we are developing our worldwide product offering with Caribbean going live in April 2016.
We are shore excursion consultants rather than just another supplier, our experience in tour management and product services is putting us ahead of pour competition. Through our strong relationships we are looking to become a much stronger partner to travel agents and thus help them make more money. We’re doing this by having in-house ambassadors within agencies themselves.
How will you take this plan forward?
It is all about education and partnerships with key travel agents. Ancillaries are a dirty word to some cruise specialists, because – rightly so – they want their agents to focus on cruises as this is where the revenue is. It’s our job, as the experts, to show that by working with us, agencies can see a 48% increase in profits at no extra cost.
How will Tripashore ambassadors help agencies?
Keeping the fact that we are the cruise tour experts at the forefront, we take destination specialists and place them within existing travel agent teams. They then work their databases and implement our processes and systems to explore areas that otherwise wouldn’t have been looked at. Our methods have proved very successful so far. We’re averaging a sales conversion rate of 30%, which is why so many agencies are signing up with us. It helps to have the experts leading the way.
We’re averaging a sales conversion rate of 30%
How can smaller agents be part of this?
There are so many quality small cruise specialists, that combined they have the potential to be just as big as the market leaders. These are the specialists that understand customer service and want to compete by differentiating there offerings. There are also a lot more business owners within that number who will realise the potential of what we are doing. We are now starting to go in and show them how we work. It’s all about building those relationships and advising on quick ways to increase sales. If independents want to maximise sales then they should get in touch and we will help them increase their profits.
What differentiates you from the competition?
We aren’t just bragging that we’re cruise tour experts; we’ve got the experts who have planned and sold the tours for a number of years for the world’s biggest cruise lines. We use the best suppliers in the market. We are the specialists. We have more unique tours available at competitive prices than other independent operators per port and our product selection offers something for everyone. Our competitors are producing brochures and while we agree this is a great initiative we have taken it one step further and produced a bespoke brochure for each cruise we supply with tours. Customers don’t just want a price list brochure they want to have information that’s relevant to them.
Craig Jeffs is head of sales at Tripashore