EasyCruise upgrades third parties in distribution rethink

Travel agents and online travel agencies will become an important route to market for easyCruise as it repositions as a more traditional cruise line rather than a direct sell no-frills operator.

This week easyCruise signed a deal with Amadeus, giving it access not only to travel agents via Amadeus Cruise but also online travel agencies and private-labels via its Cruise API.

Paul Ellerby, easyCruise sales and and marketing director, explained the reasons behind the deal “were more complicated” than a  simple channel shift and related to the ruise line’s gradual move away from the low-cost model.

“Direct sell worked at £9 [a night] when you are creating a demand for a niche product,” Ellerby said, “but you can’t build a business at that price.”

Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup launched its no-frills cruise line in May 2005, selling mainly direct with some travel agent and wholesaler distribution. Cleaning, towels and food were extras.

It now operates one ship easyCruiseLife moving into the traditional three/four star cruising sector the process. Prices are on a half-board basis.

“The difficulty was, ‘how do you get your existing customers to move from that 9 price point up to 40’,” he said. “Based on the success we  had with wholesalers, we realised that developing our B2B strategy would not require as significant  an investment as marketing a relaunch of the brand.”

While Amadeus Cruise gives it access to the trade, the API ‘was the most efficient route to get to the OTAs.”

The business caused a minor stir in Oct 2006 when it started to sell through eBay. Ellerby said: “We sold some seats but i don’t think we made much money out of it.”

The one-year deal was not renewed.

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