TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based CruiseEdge, a travel agent lead generation platform for cruise trips.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
CruiseEdge is an email lead generation web service for the US cruise market aimed at getting cruisers the best cruise deals by connecting them with experienced cruise agents.
CruiseEdge is being built by some of the staff that used to work for 1st Cruise Holidays.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
CruiseEdge has taken no outside investment to date and is at the moment being bootstrapped by the team’s founders.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The average person searching for a cruise vacation online visits over 10 cruise websites, but what if you could visit just one cruise website and get experienced cruise agents to contact you, at your convenience, with the best cruise deals available.
Cruisers can book their cruise costing thousands of dollars online via self-service websites without ever talking to an experienced and knowledgeable cruise agent.
We think that cruise agents are a resource that is being under utilized by most travellers, and that most travellers would benefit from the expertise and knowledge that a cruise agent could give them when it comes to booking their cruise vacation.
Describe the business, core products and services?
CruiseEdge will connect cruisers looking for their perfect cruise vacation to experienced cruise agents who will then contact the traveller via email with the best cruise deals that they can offer, all in a timely manner.
The CruiseEdge web service will sit between visiting your local cruise agent which could be impractical and using an online cruise website which allows you to book without any expert guidance.
For cruise agents it is an email lead generation service that aims to build customer confidence in the cruise sector and in cruise agents as the cruise agents get to use their knowledge and expertise to give the customer the best possible service and therefore raise brand awareness.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Anyone looking for a cruise online who doesn’t want the time consuming task of visiting over 10 cruise websites and taking lots of notes and comparing cruise deals on offer that then go and sell out just at the moment you are ready to input your credit card details.
Cruise agents who want more qualified exclusive cruise leads to boost their bookings and their online brand, while giving cruisers the best possible service.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
No, there is a gap in the US cruise market for a service like this and at CruiseEdge we believe that cruisers could get better deals and better service than what is currently on offer.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Cruise agents will pay a monthly subscription fee to be a part of the web service and as the service is being bootstrapped it should break even within days of launch and then quickly become profitable so that we can build upon the service.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- The CruiseEdge team has extensive knowledge and experience of the online and offline cruise market and will bring that to build a service that serves the customer and the cruise agent.
- CruiseEdge is a new type of cruise search website and therefore a lot of work is needed in promotion and brand awareness to attract customers and cruise agents.
- We believe that is a lot of room for increasing the services that CruiseEdge can offer in the coming months.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Traditional online cruise agents could start to offer a similar service, but as CruiseEdge is being built by a small team of cruise experts, we believe that we are agile enough to build the CruiseEdge web service to the ebb and flow of the cruise market using the lean startup method.
No one thinks that CruiseEdge could possibly work, so we believe that is a good as indication as any that we should give it a shot for the next 12-months and see what happens.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We hope to have about 50 Cruise agents join the web service in the next 12-months and we hope to serve over 500,000 cruisers in 2012.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.