Start-up cruise comparison website CruiseCompare.co.uk has attracted more than £90,000-worth of investment. The funds will be used to enhance its internet and media profile as part of an aim to become a top 25 UK travel website.
The cash injection came from the Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund, which is managed by venture capital firm Northstar Ventures and backed by One North East, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.
The site was established by former DFDS Seaways online marketing manager Tom Fotheringham at the start of the year. CruiseCompare.co.uk gives users access to up to 40,000 deals, and Fotheringham hopes to introduce the site to other countries. The company is also developing a late deals section.
Fotheringham said: “We are hoping to replicate the success of price comparison websites which have dramatically changed the way UK consumers select things like gas and electricity, motor insurance and mobile phone providers.
“For many people, a cruise is their once in a lifetime dream holiday. Others take half a dozen a year. But with so many cruise lines offering a huge range of cruises from £49 to £49,000 it can sometimes be a little bewildering.
“CruiseCompare.co.uk is the only website of its kind and lets users search and compare the entire cruise holiday market in seconds. We are hopeful that this investment by Northstar will help us to develop the concept even further and become a top 25 UK travel site.”
CruiseCompare supplies information on cruise deals to a number of national newspapers and its Facebook page attracted an 20,000 followers in the first four weeks.
Stephen Price, Proof of Concept manager at Northstar Ventures said: “CruiseCompare’s business model replicates the now familiar price comparison format, used by many high profile service providers including those also focussed on the holiday sector.
“However, until CruiseCompare came along, no-one had been able to deliver a truly independent, easy to use, impartial and consumer friendly price comparison website for this particular market.”
He added: “CruiseCompare is building a community of cruise lovers through a blogging and social media campaign which is attracting those new to cruise holidays without alienating traditional customers who simply want to compare live cruise holiday prices from the comfort of their own home, and then book through CruiseCompare’s Abta-bonded travel agent partners.
“We are confident that this investment, combined with the expertise of the management team, will help position the website as a travel industry leader in the very near future.”