Shorex seeks uplift from first bookable website

Cruise transfer and excursion provider to the trade Shorex Travel is expecting the launch of its first bookable website to increase the volume of sales up to ten-fold.

The start-up run by former Cadogan Holidays and Disney executive Tom Allen has operated without a fully functioning website since its launch at the end of last year.

Current booking levels remain low, although growing day by day. Allen said offering travel agents the ability to book online would significantly increase volume.

“Lots of people have said to me we can get our reservation staff to use you once it’s bookable online,” he said.

“We would expect within a couple of months to be doing eight to ten times the volumes we are doing at the moment. We think there is that much potential.”

Shorex offers pre- and post-cruise transfers and shore excursions, hoping to take advantage of a growth in agents packaging up their own cruises to offset falling commissions from some lines.

It also hopes to eventually work with lines themselves, pointing out that its products are specifically tailored to UK guests and represent an area the operators’ US-based parents have not developed.

Hammersmith-based travel technology firm Metafour has developed the website and booking system for Shorex, integrating product from a range of hotel bed, excursion and transfer suppliers.

“Anyone can build a website with a nice look and feel, but [Metafour] really had to get their heads round this one because it all had to be integrated with a relatively complex booking process,” Allen said.

The firm hopes to eventually offer XML feeds to travel agents who themselves use technology providers such as Traveltek to power their websites.

Although the site allows consumers to make bookings, Allen stressed that it is designed to be business-to-business, adding, “We are not doing any consumer direct marketing.”

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